Posted 06/01/2021 by FASO

Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are greatly overrepresented in the prison population: as of March 2020, 27% of prisoners were from a BME background, compared with only 13% of the general population. People who identify as ‘black’ are imprisoned at an even more disproportionate rate: they comprise only 3% of the general population but 13% of adult prisoners (UK Prison Population Statistics, 2020).

HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMI Prisons) inspection reports consistently show that BME prisoners report worse experiences and outcomes than white prisoners across a wide range of indicators covering most areas of prison life. The Lammy Review (published in 2017 and subtitled ‘An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System’) drew extensively on HMI Prisons’ evidence and other sources to highlight under-identification of BME prisoners’ vulnerabilities, widespread feelings among BME prisoners of being treated less well than white prisoners and shortcomings in important systems of redress and internal assurance. People from a BME background have less trust in the criminal justice system than white people and worse perceptions of the system’s fairness, whether or not they have had any significant involvement in it (Lammy, 2017). The reasons for these perceptions are complex and under-researched, and result not just from criminal justice processes, but also from long-term patterns of social inequality and prejudice (Bhui, 2009).

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