'Race-blind' prosecuting decision proposals need careful study, warns CPS head

Updated: 

Proposals to introduce "race-blind" prosecuting decisions must be examined carefully, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service has said.

Alison Saunders was asked about recommendations made by a landmark review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the criminal justice system.

The inquiry, led by Labour MP David Lammy and published in September, found that overall charging decisions taken by the CPS are "broadly proportionate".

Once arrested, suspects from different ethnic groups are charged at relatively similar rates, with the "important exceptions" of rape and domestic abuse, according to the Lammy review.

Black A Level applicants to Oxbridge figures
Labour MP David Lammy led a landmark review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the criminal justice system (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

It called for the CPS to adopt "race-blind prosecuting" wherever possible, redacting identifying information such as name and ethnicity from the information passed by the police to CPS prosecutors.

Ms Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, told the Commons Justice committee: "On the race-blind prosecutions, we have said we will have a look at it.

"Actually what he's (Mr Lammy) saying in his report is we do well on our decision-making.

From 10am you can watch our session live with Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, on the work of the @cpsuk: https://t.co/yslIxvSzNipic.twitter.com/hnBxlxdvDI

-- Justice Committee (@CommonsJustice) November 21, 2017

"It was reassuring to see his confidence in our decision-making, which wasn't discriminatory. The reason we know that is because of the figures that we have.

"What I don't want to do is throw baby out with bath water and not have those figures because we have made them race-blind.

"If we were to make them race-blind somebody would have to redact it. In order to get the data we'd have to put it back in.

"That's quite a lot of resource for something we are recognised as doing well on so we really need to think about that quite carefully."