It’s now been a year since the launch of the Government’s Race Disparity Audit. The Ministry of Justice has taken this opportunity to provide an update on its response to David Lammy’s review into the treatment of and outcomes for Black Asian and minority ethnic groups in the criminal justice system[i] . BTEG welcomes the progress that has been made within the MOJ since the release of the government’s Lammy implementation process in December 2017. [ii] .
There is now a clear structure within the MOJ to oversee the delivery of the department’s Lammy implementation plan. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) have been pro-active in taking forward the practicalities of implementing Lammy’s recommendations for the prison service and have established an external scrutiny group within which members of the Equal national independent advisory group (formerly the Young Review Independent Advisory Group) actively participate.
For BTEG, today’s report highlights areas where more needs to be done. Crucially we need the MOJ to adopt and make public what its key indicators of success will be. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list of targets but we must have a framework as to when we can see demonstrable improvements in outcomes for BAME prisoners for example in areas of great ethnic disparities such as complaints and the incentives and earned privileges scheme which David Lammy so graphically highlighted in his report.
It is positive that the update gives recognition to the need for further work around the disproportionality experienced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveler communities within the justice system. But we also believe the experience of Muslim communities and their over representation in the system also demands further exploration.
Lammy cited youth justice as his biggest concern in his final report and it is one we at BTEG have shared for many years. Since the release of the report we have had the spike in murders and serious youth violence across the country. The former Youth Justice Minister DR Philip Lee had spoken publicly of developing a BAME youth justice strategy and we hope the MOJ and the Youth Justice Board will deliver this.
At BTEG and through our role as the secretariat for Equal (formerly the Young Review Independent Advisory Group) we will continue to work with and challenge the MOJ in its implementation of the Lammy Review recommendations and its wider agenda around race equality. Crucially we need a justice system that embraces the challenge of achieving parity in outcomes for all groups in our society not as an add on but as essential in developing a more effective and equitable justice system. [iii]