BAME People in Criminal Justice System

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons on 10th February 2021.

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Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

What recent discussions she has had with the Justice Secretary on the disproportionate number of BAME people in the criminal justice system.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Tackling race disparity in the criminal justice system remains a priority for all Ministers in my Department. We have a broad programme of work to address the issue, including work on the collection of data and the implementation of policies that tackle disproportionality, together with scrutiny and oversight. The criminal justice system race and ethnicity board reviews the progress of this work.

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

A lack of diversity in the judiciary is something that should concern the Government. It is deeply troubling, as it is one of the major reasons that all communities, including black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, lack confidence in the criminal justice system. There are currently zero Supreme Court judges who are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. Steps need to be taken to fix the justice system so that it is fair and equal for everyone. Will the Government introduce a clear target for a representative judiciary, as called for in the Lammy review?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The hon. Member raises an important issue in relation to diversity in the judiciary, and it is important to ensure that women and black and ethnic minorities come through the system as lawyers. Indeed, there are a lot of women coming through the system, but we need to improve that as well. From 2014 to 2019, there have been some small improvements in judicial diversity. The proportion of women judges increased from 24% to 32% in the courts and from 43% to 46% in tribunals, and the proportion of BAME judges increased from 6% to 7% in the courts and from 9% to 11% in tribunals, but we need to do more work. The judiciary is independent, and I know that it is very concerned about this issue.