Launch of the Lammy Review

David Lammy’s 35 recommendations set out a clear way forward, says MEAM’s director Ollie Hilbery. We now need leadership and resources to put them into place, so that this thoughtful review can have the impact it needs.

This morning I attended the launch of the Lammy Review, which was set up to explore the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Individuals in the Criminal Justice System.

The need for the review is stark: Despite making up just 14% of the population, BAME men and women account for 25% of prisoners and 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds.  If incarceration rates were representative we would have 9,000 fewer people in prison, equivalent to twelve average-size prisons.

The review covers all parts of the Criminal Justice System, but David Lammy is clear that many of the causes of over-representation – poverty, education, family – lie outside the CJS, as do the solutions.

Within the Criminal Justice System the findings centre around changes to the courts, sentencing, prison and particularly the youth justice system. The report links the 35 recommendations to three main themes:

  1. Scrutiny and fair treatment: exploring how better data and increased transparency can help drive change in the millions of decisions that affect people in the CJS each year. For example, BAME defendants are currently more likely to receive a prison sentence for drug offences, even when other factors are taken into account. More transparent data and analysis is needed to prevent these disparities continuing.
  2. Trust: the review shows that BAME individuals expect the Criminal Justice System to discriminate against them and that there are often poor relationships with staff. BAME defendants are far more likely to plead not guilty in court, therefore missing opportunities for diversion, community sentences or shorter prison terms, something that the Director of Public Prosecutions has now pledged to address. The Review calls for more BAME judges and prison governors and better support and advice for people at all stages of the system.
  3. Responsibility: the review explores issues around parenting, communities, employers and keeping young people away from criminal gangs.

David Lammy spoke with passion and precision about the review today.  But he finished by making the point that “actions matter most”.  Like all reviews, this one needs continued leadership and resources if the recommendations are to be put in place. Our partner Clinks has set out some of the steps that now need to be taken to ensure that this thoughtful review can have the impact it needs.