Youth Justice: Equality

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15th July 2021.

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Photo of Rosie Duffield Rosie Duffield Labour, Canterbury

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government is taking to tackle race disparity in the youth justice system, particularly with regard to those held on remand.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

We want people to have confidence in a justice system that is fair and open—one where no person suffers discrimination of any sort.

The over-representation of ethnic minority children in the youth justice system is a real concern and we continue to prioritise understanding and tackling disparities.

The MoJ Youth Justice Policy Unit, the Youth Justice Board and the Youth Custody Service work closely together on this. Work includes providing the tools and data to help frontline youth justice services to understand the needs of ethnic minority children, work with the Magistrates’ Association to build awareness of disproportionality among sentencers, and securing over £1m in funding to use physical activity to improve outcomes for 11,000 ethnic minority children at risk of entering the criminal justice system.

In relation to remand, we are also exploring race disparities in the context of a departmental review into the use of custodial remand for children. In addition, the steps we are taking through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to tighten the tests courts must apply to remand children to custody also have the potential to help reduce disparity in remand decisions.

More broadly, work directly within the youth justice system can only partially address inequalities, as ‘upstream’ factors which increase the likelihood of a child appearing in the youth justice system are also disproportionate. Cross Government work on education, health and policing, all important areas upstream of MoJ’s remit, recognises the importance of equalities.

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