Lammy: “Things have got much worse” for BAME people in criminal justice system

updated on 27 March 2019

Over a year on from his landmark race review, Labour MP David Lammy has told the House of Commons Justice Committee that things have got “considerably worse” for BAME people in the criminal justice system.

The original report, which was commissioned by David Cameron as an independent review of the treatment and outcomes for BAME people in the criminal justice system, was published in September 2017 and made 35 recommendations. Among other findings, the inquiry reported that black people in the UK were four times more likely to be in prison than would be expected given the proportion of the total population.

One of the key recommendations from the report was a “pretty tame” diversity target for the judiciary which was subsequently rejected by the government and the Judicial Appointments Commission. The lack of diversity in the judiciary was cited by Lammy as one of the main reasons contributing to the problem, alongside a shortage of BAME prison governors and the lack of transparency in the Gangs Matrix.

Asked this week if the government should introduce diversity targets, Lammy said “absolutely”, commenting that progress since the review was published has been “snail like”. He suggested that the judiciary would be more diverse today if judges were selected by the old “tap on the shoulder” system.