Offenders, suspects and victims urged to back justice system 'racism' review

A probe into possible racial bias in the criminal justice system is calling on offenders, suspects and victims to share their experiences.

MP David Lammy was asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the review earlier this year.

It will investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities in England and Wales.

On Monday a consultation will be launched on the Government's website to gather evidence on the issue.

Its questions include why respondents think black defendants are more likely to be found guilty by a jury, face custodial sentences and report a worse experience in prison than white defendants.

Mr Lammy said: "We know that there is disproportionate representation in the criminal justice system - the question is why.

"Over the course of the next year my review will search for those answers, starting with an open call for evidence to get to grips with the issues at hand.

"There is clearly an urgent need for progress to be made in this area, and the evidence received through this consultation will be crucial in identifying areas where real change can achieved."

Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals currently make up over a quarter of prisoners despite making up 14% of the population of England and Wales,

Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%), and those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).

The review will address issues arising from Crown Prosecution Involvement involvement onwards - including the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond.

Mr Lammy will be supported by a secretariat from the Ministry of Justice and a panel of expert advisers. They are expected to submit a final report to ministers by spring 2017. 

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