New protest bill will deepen racial inequality, campaigners warn Boris Johnson

New protest bill will deepen racial inequality, campaigners warn Boris Johnson

New protest bill will deepen racial inequality, campaigners warn Boris Johnson, carthage news

A coalition of criminal justice and race equality organisations has written to the prime minster warning that the government’s plans for policing and sentencing will further entrench racial inequality in the criminal justice system.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill entered parliament last week, and will be debated by ministers on Monday and Tuesday. It contains a number of proposals which the government itself has conceded will have a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people in equality assessments.

The organisations call for the ministers to withdraw the elements of the bill it acknowledges will increase racial inequality and launch a public consultation around the changes to avoid discrimination.

Nina Champion, director of the Criminal Justice Alliance, said: “These unnecessary and discriminatory changes to sentencing and police powers will deepen existing racial inequalities, sweeping more Black, Asian and minority ethnic people into the criminal justice system for increasing periods of their lives.

“They will also miss out on the more positive proposals in the bill. Initiatives to divert people from the criminal justice system into community rehabilitation will depend on a guilty plea, and we know Black, Asian and minority people are less likely to plead guilty due to distrust in the system. Rather than reducing racial inequality, as the government has committed to do, this bill does the complete opposite.”

In a policy paper relating to the the bill, the Ministry of Justice admitted: “By virtue of the overrepresentation of these groups in the cohort of offender to which this policy applies, we acknowledge that any adverse impacts arising from these changes will be more likely to affect male and Black offenders.”

“While the available data shows that Black children are disproportionately represented in the youth custodial remand population, the evidence that Bame offenders may be perceived as a higher risk suggests they may be less likely to benefit from these changes,” it added.

The Lammy Review (2017), led by shadow justice minister David Lammy, found that Black people make up around 3 per cent of the general population but accounted for 12 per cent of adult prisoners in 2015-16; and more than 20 per cent of children in custody. Other groups, such as mixed race adult prisoners, are also overrepresented, although to a lesser degree.


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