Select Committee on Home Affairs Second Report


  A full and accurate picture of overrepresentation will be vital to any strategy to reduce it. We are encouraged that the Home Office has recently commissioned the development of advice and guidance on the collection and use of a minimum dataset on race statistics. We recommend that further action on statistics on race and the criminal justice system should include the following measures:

    a)  When aggregating data on ethnicity, all agencies should use the same ethnicity categories to allow clear comparison of data at different stages of the system[366]

    b)  The Youth Justice Board should set robust targets to Youth Offending Teams to improve recording of the ethnicity of young people being supervised, including a requirement for YOT data returns to be disaggregated by gender and ethnicity simultaneously

    c)  The government should pilot research on the feasibility of police forces collecting data on victimisation, to be published as part of the Home Office's Section 95 statistics

    d)  The Crown Prosecution Service should provide ethnic data on charging and disposals

    e)  The Home Office should collect data from police forces on the proportion of people arrested where no further action is taken following arrest, by ethnicity. This should be published as part of the annual section 95 report

    f)  Ethnic data for those who are charged with an offence should be published as part of s95 data. This is only currently available for juveniles[367]

    g)  Government should collect and publish data on the ethnicity and age of those convicted of firearms and knife crime offences

    h)  Government should include a breakdown of the type of weapon used in its statistics on firearms offences, to allow distinction to be made between crimes involving air weapons and those involving other types of firearms.

    i)  Section 95 statistics on race should provide more information about gender to build a fuller picture of differences between males and females of different ethnicities.

    j)  Government should provide a breakdown of the application of ASBOs and fixed penalty notices to different ethnic groups.

    k)  We recommend that compliance on provision of statistics at the local level should be monitored on a regular basis by the appropriate government department and by the inspectorates for each agency.

    l)  Government should undertake monitoring of CPS charging decisions to verify that there is no undue bias to charging decisions in cases where the suspect is black

  In addition to further statistical data, there is a need for further research to help interpret the statistics and pinpoint effective solutions. In particular, there is a need to understand how existing interventions impact on young people of different ethnic minorities. We understand that the Youth Justice Board is planning to commission research into the needs of BME young people and young women and how these are met by criminal justice agencies, and into interventions for young people who have committed racially motivated offences.[368] We also understand that the Commission for Racial Equality and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) are planning research into the causes of ethnic minority young people's experience of the criminal justice system.[369] We suggest that the Government and, where appropriate, the Economic and Social Research Council should also consider commissioning research into:

    m)  The extent of, and reasons for, different offending patterns among different ethnic groups

    n)  The progress of different ethnic groups through the Criminal Justice System through arrest and charge to prison, probation and aftercare. This should be a comprehensive study with qualitative and quantitative elements.

    o)  Factors that protect and place young people at risk of involvement in crime

    p)  Youth affiliation, peer groups and gangs and their relationship with criminal behaviour

    q)  Availability of post-sentence support for offenders of different ethnic origins and their impact on recidivism

    r)  Alternatives to use of stop and search by the police

    s)  Effectiveness of conflict resolution schemes and initiatives aiming to reduce retribution and reprisals

    t)  Reasons for any ethnic differences in the decision to charge young defendants, and into ethnic differences in the number of young people remanded in custody before sentence

    u)  Extent of, and reasons for, ethnic differences in sentencing, to establish whether any differences are accounted for by case characteristics.

  There is a particularly pressing need to improve police forces' collection and use of data. In terms of stop and search, Baroness Scotland told us that "we will be able to move, even if it takes five, ten years, into real-time data" to enable forces to determine where disproportionality may lie within a force or unit".[370] This data would seem to be key in identifying potential areas of discrimination. We recommend that the police should move as quickly as possible to gather and use this data, and would hope it could be made available within the next five years.

  Force level data will not always capture the full picture of if, where and how discrimination is occurring. We therefore recommend that police forces should be required to analyse their own data at Basic Command Unit level and to demonstrate to local criminal justice boards, police authorities and/or the Home Secretary that they are using this to inform practice. In many areas this will mean working with small numbers, so police forces should use qualitative approaches to understand the factors which underlie overrepresentation.

366   Dr Marian FitzGerald, Statistical Evidence, p. 69 [see footnote 34 above] Back

367   Ibid., p. 41 [see footnote 34 above] Back

368   Ev 381 Back

369   Ibid. Back

370   Q 651 Back

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