Researchers from the Institute of Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) at King's College, London, studied whether the police and the youth justice system treated young people from different ethnic groups differently.
By examining police stop-and-search records and more than 18,000 case decisions of youth offending yeams, and through interviews with police and young people, the team confirmed there was evidence of discrimination against ethnic minorities at some points in the system.

Researchers found mixed-race suspects were more likely to be sent to court than be given a police disposal. Black and mixed-race defendants were more likely to be remanded in custody. Mixed-race teenagers were also more likely to be given tougher community sentences rather than lighter first-tier penalties or referral orders.

The different treatments could not be accounted for by the severity of the crimes or the defendant’s criminal history. However, the researchers did not find evidence that ethnicity affected the likelihood of getting a custodial sentence.

Different policing approaches were also noted in the four areas studied. Adversarial policing was more prominent in inner-city areas where there was a history of friction between police and young black people. This led to more arrests of black and mixed-race youngsters.

Tracey Gyatend, who co-authored the report, said there was also a significant geographical influence on the type of disposal a young person received. "The Youth Justice Board should examine the reasons why some young people can receive a harsher penalty [than others], even though offence and criminal history characteristics [are similar]."