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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

What has the MoJ done about Lammy?

The MoJ's first year update on tackling racial disparity shows there is a lot of work to be done.

Last September David Lammy published his hard hitting assessment of institutional racism within the criminal justice system. The Lammy Review detailed racial disparity at every level, see my infographic summarising some of the key findings below.

The MoJ accepted all 35 Lammy recommendations and its fundamental challenge that government and criminal justice agencies must either explain the reasons for racial disparity in a particular situation and if it cannot do so, reform the system to eradicate racism.

Now (11 October 2018), it has published its first progress report with the rather lengthy title: Tackling Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System: 2018 Update Includes progress responding to the Lammy Review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System, one year on.

This 39 page document is not an easy one to summarise. Unsurprisingly, the endemic racism uncovered by David Lammy is not susceptible to a fast fix. Therefore the progress report lists a range of different research projects, steering groups and new structures rather than reporting examples of clear progress.

This is, perhaps, inevitable and the MoJ has taken steps to address every one of the 35 recommendations in Mr Lammy’s original report.

I include three examples of the type of response the MoJ has initiated below:

Recommendation 2: The government should match the rigorous standards set in the US for the analysis of ethnicity and the CJS. Specifically, the analysis commissioned for this review – learning from the US approach – must be repeated biennially, to understand more about the impact of decisions at each stage of the CJS.

UPDATE: The MoJ are working with representatives from the Race Disparity Unit, Government Statistical Service Good Practice Team and as well as Office for National Statistics Methodology, with the involvement of academic statisticians, to develop a best practice approach for the use of Relative Rate Indexes. These enable us to compare the likelihood of a certain outcome for different groups, where this would be suitable and statistically robust. The MoJ is already seeking where possible to add Relative Rate Indexes into forthcoming publications. From March 2019 we will implement this approach for all statistical bulletins featuring suitable rate data broken down by ethnicity and other protected characteristics.

Recommendation 24: To increase the fairness and effectiveness of the Incentives and Earned Privileges system, each prison governor should ensure that there is forum in their institution for both officers and prisoners to review the fairness and effectiveness of their regime. Both BAME and White prisoners should be represented in this forum. Governors should make the ultimate decisions in this area.

UPDATE: All prisons were instructed to establish a forum to review IEP by July 2018. The draft Incentives Policy Framework also mandates Governors to ensure there is a forum to review the fairness and effectiveness of IEP. The forums will involve both BAME and White prisoners and staff and use the principles of procedural justice to improve the trust and confidence among the men and women in the IEP system. Internal assurance mechanisms have been established to track the implementation and effectiveness of the forums, and all prisons are now running forums or have imminent plans to put them in place. The data on IEP levels and proportionality will be monitored through the Equalities Monitoring Tool and in 2018/19 we will publish revised guidance for prisons to help them maximise the benefit of the forums.

Recommendation 31: The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) should bring together a working group to discuss the barriers to more effective sub-contracting. The working group should involve the CRCs themselves and a cross-section of smaller organisations, including some with a particular focus on BAME issues.

UPDATE: HMPPS held workshops with CRCs which were attended by the 8 parent organisations, Clinks and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG). HMPPS are currently reviewing the work plans developed, alongside the Annual CRC Equality and Diversity Reports to address barriers to BAME front line services. HMPPS are also working closely with members of the Young Review Independent Advisory Group to assist with the development of an industry-based charter mark for race equality in the sector. Following the recent announcement of the early termination of the current CRC contracts, HMPPS and the CRCs are consulting with the Probation Programme about how to increase the diversity of sub-contractors and delivery partnerships, particularly with smaller and community based organisations and those whose focus is on BAME issues.

Conclusion

It is not possible to assess how much impact any of the work detailed in this update will have on racial disparity in our criminal justice system but perhaps we should welcome the transparency that the Lammy Review has forced on the MoJ and hope to see more substantive evidence of progress in next year’s update.

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