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The latest on racial disparity in justice

Ministry of Justice annual stats on race in the justice system reveals entrenched racial disparity throughout the system.

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No improvement in racial discrimination

Last week (30 November 2017), the Ministry of Justice published its annual Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, covering the last financial year (2016/17).

This publication compiles statistics from data sources across the CJS to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of different ethnic groups.

In general, non-White ethnic groups appear to be over-represented at most stages throughout the CJS, compared with the White ethnic group, though this is not universal and does not appear to increase as they progress through the CJS. Among non-White ethnic groups, Black and Mixed individuals were often the most over-represented. Trends over time for each ethnic group have tended to mirror overall trends, with little change in relative positions between ethnic groups.

Key findings

The 113 page report is an essential source of information and a number of additional tables are published too to allow us to scrutinise particular issues of interest. Here are 10 key facts I hope you will find of interest:

1: Victims of personal crime in last year

The Mixed ethnic group was the most likely to be a victim of personal crime (7.4%), and the Asian or Asian British ethnic group were the least likely (2.6%). Since 2008/09, the White ethnic group and the Asian or Asian British ethnic group experienced statistically significant falls in the likelihood of being a victim of personal crime, but the falls for other ethnic groups were not statistically significant.

2: Stop and searches

In 2016/17, compared with the White ethnic group, stops and searches proportionate to population size were more likely to be carried out on the Black (eight times as likely), Mixed (between two and three times as likely), Asian (just over two times as likely) and Chinese or Other (one and a half as likely) ethnic groups.

3: Prosecutions

Relative to the population, the rates of prosecution for indictable offences for Black and Mixed ethnic groups were four and two times higher than for the White ethnic group. For every 1,000 population members, 16 Black and 9 Mixed defendants were prosecuted compared to 4 White defendants.

4: Conviction ratio

White defendants have consistently had the highest conviction ratio for indictable offences out of all ethnic groups since 2012 (ranging from 80% to 86%), with the exception of Chinese or Other in 2015 (84%). The Relative Rate Index indicates there is a statistically significant disparity in the rates at which defendants from non-White ethnic groups are convicted when compared to White defendants.

5: Remanded in custody

In 2016, Black and Mixed defendants were 23% and 18% more likely than White defendants to be remanded in custody in Crown Court for indictable offences.

6: Custody rate and Average Custodial Sentence Length (ACSL)

The custody rate for Asian offenders has been increasing over the last 5 years and in 2016 they were 11% more likely than White offenders to receive a custodial sentence. Black and Asian offenders have consistently had the longest ACSLs since 2012 and Chinese or Other’s ACSL has notably increased in the last 2 years.

7: Youth Prosecutions

Prosecution rate relative to the population was highest for Black juveniles (12 juveniles per 1,000 people in the population), followed by Mixed (4 per 1,000), Chinese or Other (2 per 1,000) and White (2 per 1,000) and Asian (2 per 1,000).

8: Educational attainment

Overall, Black and ‘Asian and Other’ young people in the matched cohort sentenced in 2014 had a greater proportion achieving 5 or more GCSEs graded A* – C and A* – G for all sentencing outcomes.

9: Parole Board

In the year ending March 2017, following a parole board hearing, half (50%) of White offenders were released from prison, this proportion was higher than all other ethnic groups (ranging from 40% to 48%).

10: Ethnic makeup of practitioners

Non-White ethnic groups were under-represented relative to the population among the police, National Offender Management Service, judiciary and magistracy with proportions increasing slowly or remaining the same over the last 5 years. Non-White ethnic groups were over-represented relative to the population among the Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service with proportions increasing over the last 5 years.

MoJ has followed, its recent, helpful practice of summarising the main findings in an infographic, reproduced below:


All infographics are kindly sponsored by Intelligent Fingerprinting whose non-invasive fingerprint drug test has been designed to simplify and support drug screening programmes across a range of applications. IFP has no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

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