By way of conclusion to the last 4 blog posts on the topic of racial inequality in the Criminal Justice System we’d like to suggest some ways we can all help improve the situation.
We will work to lobby government to pursue the following aims, and we invite you to ask your MP and others to do the same, and where relevant to do your bit yourself:
1. To fully implement the Lammy Review’s recommendations. In particular:
a. To experiment (the key government departments and the legal profession working together) with different approaches to explaining legal rights and options to defendants.
b. To set a clear, national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025. We would add here that if you are a member of a group of people which is currently under-represented in the magistracy (particularly young people and those from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds, but also BAME people in some regions) then you should consider applying to become one, to increase the diversity of the magistrates’ court bench, which tries the vast majority of all criminal cases.
c. To strive for better BAME representation in prison staffing, in particular in senior rules and in adjudicative / oversight roles.
d. To introduce a US-style system for sealing criminal records (‘wiping the slate clean’) and / or mandate a ‘ban the box’ approach (preventing employers from asking about criminal convictions on an initial sift job application). To combine this with a programme of public information regarding the cost of re-offending, to bolster public support.
2. To significantly increase the use of release on temporary licence (ROTL – or day release) either by expanding the Category D (low-security) prison estate or by extending the use of ROTL by Category C prison governors.
3. To take steps to significantly increase voter turnout at Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections and in particular to invest in public information and education programmes designed to increase participation in these elections amongst BAME communities.