Monday, 23 May 2016

UK Black Judges Call On Lord Chief Justice To Support Fight Against Discrimination.


Britain’s most senior Judge, The Lord Chief Justice asked to support BME  
Judges to hold a historic first meeting at the House of Commons on July 14th  
2016 to discuss racial bias and discrimination in the Justice System as part 
of the Review by The Rt Hon David Lammy M.P.  
The Right Honourable Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, The Lord Chief Justice has been asked to endorse a historic first meeting of BME Judges to air their concerns about racism, discrimination and bias within the justice system. The Lord Chief Justice who promotes diversity and the need for equality on his website has been asked to facilitate this historic meeting to be addressed by some of the UK’s leading BME Judges and organisations. The private meeting is expected to be attended by over 50 BME Judges and will be addressed by The Rt Hon David Lammy M.P.  
In response to an open letter from a range of BME organisations David Lammy M.P. has agreed to address a meeting of BME Judges at the House of Commons to hear concerns about judicial racism, discrimination and bias relevant to the Parliamentary Review BME over representation in the Criminal Justice system.  
The various organisations spearheading this historic meeting have requested the support of the Lord Chief Justice to publicise the meeting and ensure that BME Judges feel empowered to attend knowing that they can speak freely with and in confidence without reprisals about their experiences and discuss solutions to enhance the fundamental principle that everyone must be equal before the law. (See attached).  
On 31st January 2016, The Prime Minister, The Rt Hon David Cameron asked David Lammy MP to lead a review to investigate evidence of possible bias and disproportionate sentencing of African, Caribbean and Asian defendants in the Criminal Justice System as part of the Equality and Criminal Justice reform.  
David Lammy MP is to report back in spring of 2017.  
The Prime Minister said, "We need to ask the difficult questions about whether the system treats people differently based on race. Charges, courts, prisons and rehabilitation to be scrutinised."   
The Rt Hon David Lammy, M.P., said, "I've been working in this area for almost two decades and am very pleased to accept the Prime Minister's invitation to lead this comprehensive, independent review across our criminal justice system. With over a quarter of the prison population coming from BAME background the urgency is clear.   
I look forward to leading a team that will evaluate what works in the UK, draw on lessons from abroad and listen to a broad range of voices from the justice system and our BAME communities."  
Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, The Rt Hon Michael Grove MP, said: "An effective justice system depends on procedural fairness. Equality of treatment at every stage in the criminal justice process is essential. I am very pleased that David, a politician whose intellectual honesty I have long admired, and who is not afraid to confront uncomfortable truths, is pursuing this important work."  
There is a need for such a review, as a report entitled Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2012, produced by the Ministry of Justice found that almost 20% per cent of Black and Asian defendants were more likely to be jailed than white defendants for similar offences. Average sentence given to an Afro-Caribbean defendant is seven times longer than that for an average white defendant.   
Stop and search figures revealed a similar pattern of over representation, a black person aged ten or older in 2011/ 2012, was six times more likely than a white person to be stopped and searched and nearly three times more likely to be arrested.   
The same report found that only 26 per cent of white criminals were handed immediate custodial sentences compared to 31 per cent for black criminals and 32 per cent for Asian criminals. Again this differential treatment can be seen in the average custodial sentence for black prisoners was 23.4 months compared to 15.9 months for white prisoners.  Speaking as the Chairman of The Society of Black Lawyers, (former Vice Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, and part time Judge), D. Peter Herbert O.B.E. said, "the figures showed 'institutional racism' within the system."'  
Note to editors and other interested parties:  
For further information please contact:  
D Peter Herbert O.B.E. Society of Black Lawyers: 07973 794 946  
Viv Ahmun Blaksox: 07985 395 166  
Ashlee Gomes NBPA: 07887 635 375  
Earl Smith ABPO: 07810 854 258