The scale of the racial disparities highlighted by the Lammy review is shocking. For every 100 white men sentenced to custody after being convicted at a Crown Court, 112 black men go to jail, despite BAME people making up just 14 per cent of the total population.
There’s no doubt the reasons for this disproportionality are complex, and cannot be solely attributed to the criminal justice system. However, the impact of a criminal record, particularly on an individual’s future employment prospects, can be devastating. So, it’s vital we ensure all defendants are treated equally.
That’s why we welcome Lammy’s recommendations to address the racial disparity that already exists within the criminal justice system, as well as the measures to ensure that BAME people do not feel the consequences of this disparity for the rest of their lives.
Commenting on the report, Sandra Kerr OBE, Business in the Community's Race Equality Director said:
“Efforts to ensure greater representation of race and diversity across the judiciary, magistracy and prison system are critical to creating a fairer justice system.
We agree that “subjecting decision-making to scrutiny is the best way to deliver fair outcomes” and would suggest that increasing the diversity of the teams undertaking the scrutiny will further reduce chances of unconscious bias or group think influencing outcomes.”
Nicola Inge, Business in the Community's Employment Campaign Manager added:
“We also welcome efforts to improve the rehabilitation of BAME offenders, specifically the introduction of a new system where some ex-offenders can have their criminal records sealed.
Research shows that more than half of employers would not consider hiring an ex-offender. And yet having a job can reduce an individual’s chances of re-offending by up to 50 per cent - saving society up to £15 billion a year.
However, sealing some criminal records will not go far enough. Research we conducted earlier this year highlighted legal concerns that employers could be falling foul of indirect discrimination laws if they are not assessing candidates with convictions fairly.
A culture change is needed within UK plc to ensure qualified applicants with criminal records are treated fairly – and Ban the Box, asking employers to remove the tick box from recruitment forms, is a critical part of the solution.”
Find out how your business can Ban the Box.