Ethnic minorities ‘more likely to end up in prison’ as Lammy review identifies disproportionality

Interim findings from David Lammy review point to racial bias in the UK criminal justice system.

Earlier this year, former Prime Minister David Cameron invited Tottenham MP David Lammy to lead a government review into the overrepresentation of black and ethnic minority (BAME) groups in the criminal justice system, amid concern at the disproportionate number of BAME people in the UK’s prisons.

We know from our own programmes how hard it can be for someone with a conviction to find work, as mainstream recruitment practices all too often exclude people with criminal convictions.

- Nicola Inge,
Campaign Manager at BITC

Interim findings of the review released last week raised some difficult questions about whether BAME groups are being treated fairly by our justice system, with the initial report showing that black men are more than three times more likely to be arrested than white men. Whilst acknowledging that the reasons for these findings are complex and varied, David Lammy has said that he will “dig deeper in the coming months to establish whether bias is a factor".

In his open letter to Theresa May, he expressed concern about the rehabilitation of BAME prisoners after the analysis revealed that men in prisons from ethnic minority backgrounds were less likely than white prisoners to have a prison job or access to offending behaviour programmes.

Lammy also warned that the criminal records regime could be limiting ex-offenders chances of finding work and moving on from their past, stating that “the danger is that this locks in existing patterns of disproportionality by making it harder for offenders to break the cycle”. 

BITC's Employment for Excluded Groups Campaign Manager, Nicola Inge, responded to the fndings by saying: "We know from our own programmes how hard it can be for someone with a conviction to find work, as mainstream recruitment practices all too often exclude people with criminal convictions. Responsible employers should consider how they can reverse some of the impacts of over-representation by creating fairer and more inclusive opportunities for people with convictions to find work.  

Our Ban the Box campaign aims to do just this, by asking employers to remove the criminal record tick box from application forms in order to assess applicants on their skills and experience first.  Ban the Box employers publicly commit to making a fairer and more informed hiring decision by delaying the disclosure of criminal convictions to a point in the recruitment process when they can fully consider the facts rather than taking a tick box approach."

Find out about how your business can Ban the Box.