Experts uncover 'institutional racism' in the justice system of England and Wales following report

The findings have been published in a report by experts at the University of Manchester. Credit: PA Images

A report examining racial attitudes and practices in the justice system of England and Wales has uncovered what experts describe as 'institutional racism' within the system.

The report draws on a survey of 373 legal professionals, conducted by experts at the University of Manchester.

95% of respondents said they believe racial bias plays some role in the processes or outcomes of the justice system, and 29% said it played a ‘fundamental role’.

The majority of respondents also said they had witnessed one or more judges acting in a racially biased way towards a defendant or in their decision-making.

Credit: PA Images

According to the survey, racial discrimination by judges is most frequently directed towards Asian and black people with people from black communities by far the most common targets of judicial discrimination.

Additionally, young black male defendants were claimed to be the 'subgroup' most frequently mentioned as targets of judicial bias.

The survey did find that some judges are already acting in ‘antiracist’ ways by being aware of racism, and seeking to mitigate it, however only a minority of respondents had seen a judge act in this way.  

It also found that only 49% of respondents who have worked as judicial office holders had received race training in the last three years.  

Credit: PA Images

The report emerges as serious questions are already being asked about the treatment of ethnic minority people in the justice system.

Previous reports have suggested black barristers are underrepresented and report experiencing racism from judges, magistrates and panel members.

On top of this, The Lammy Review and the Race at the Bar report found that sentencing outcomes are often harsher for ethnic minority defendants.   The report concluded that ‘institutional racism’ is present in the justice system which is something presided over by judges. 

The full report can be read here.

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