Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

8.  Memorandum submitted by the Barrow Cadbury Trust



  1.1  Barrow Cadbury Trust welcomes the inquiry because of the urgent need to address the overrepresentation of African Caribbean men and increasingly Pakistani and Bangladeshi men too, throughout the criminal justice system. Barrow Cadbury Trust believes that the disproportionate numbers are due to three main factors:

    (a)  Abuse of discretionary powers by the police.

    (b)  The cumulative disadvantage and its impact on the life chances of young black people.

    (c)  Failure to address the problems that young people face in their transition to adulthood.

  1.2  Barrow Cadbury Trust bases its submission on three principal sources of evidence that include:

    (a)  Lost in Transition, the report from the Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System (Barrow Cadbury Commission.)

    (b)  Reports from and focus group meetings with numerous grassroots groups in the inner cities of Birmingham, Cardiff and London.

    (c)  Commissioned research and associated reports including Righting the Wrongs of Racism, the report of the Greenwich Race Equality Review Panel 10 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence and University of York Report on Cost and Benefit Considerations.

  1.3  Among the recommendations of the report from the Barrow Cadbury Commission are the following:

    (a)  Ensure that the police improve their relationship with young people, exercise greater responsibility in their use of Stops and Stops and Searches and build up trust with their local communities.

    (b)  Make more effective use of public funding by tackling the risk factors young people face—a focus on desistence would reduce churn in the criminal justice system.

    (c)  Put in place measures that would begin to unify the two separate justice systems (youth and adult), arbitrarily divided at the age of 18 years—in the meantime, establish T2A Teams (Transition to Adulthood Teams) to provide a more seamless service.  

  1.4  Further details about the scale of the problem and proposed solutions are set out in this submission.


  2.1  Barrow Cadbury Trust is an independent grant-making foundation that promotes social justice. Established in 1940 by Barrow Cadbury (the eldest son of the industrialist Richard Cadbury), and his wife Geraldine Southall, the Trust prioritises funding for grassroots projects working with the most marginalised and disadvantaged people. Particular emphasis is placed on the needs of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

  2.2  Barrow Cadbury Trust supports pioneering, even risky, community projects that help provide practical solutions to local problems. Links have been built up with organisations that target 18-21 year olds who are either involved, or at risk of becoming involved in crime, anti-social behaviour or substance misuse. These voluntary sector operators are skilled at working with hard-to-reach young people, and provide them with support, from mentoring schemes to personalised vocational advice. Examples of some of the groups we support are listed at Annex A.

  2.3  Barrow Cadbury Trust established its Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System to develop a new approach to dealing with young people who get into trouble. The full report of the Barrow Cadbury Commission, Lost in Transition which was launched by Baroness Scotland on 22 November 2005, is attached at Annex B.[19]19

  2.4  The key finding of the Commission was the arbitrary nature of the line drawn between youth justice and criminal justice. Truth is, most young people get into some sort of trouble before they enter their early twenties. 42% of first time offenders are young adults. Then, they naturally begin to grow out of it. Settling into a relationship, possibly with children, entering employment and perhaps even finding spiritual enlightenment changes their lives (this has been rather crudely put as finding a girlfriend, a job or god). Young people mature over a transitional phase during the years of 18 and 24.

  2.5  During this transitional phase, arguably, the more privileged young people tend to be protected against minor misdemeanours, first by their families, then by any higher education institutions they might enter. By contrast, those growing up in multiple deprivation are more reliant on statutory agencies for support and reaching the age of 18 can be like a cliff edge, when state responsibility is suddenly withdrawn. They can find that the leniency previously shown for difficult and challenging behaviour can turn a minor misdemeanour into a criminal record for the rest of their life. Rather than naturally growing out of crime, instead they find that opportunities narrow even further and they become consigned to the criminal justice system.

  2.6  Barrow Cadbury commissioned research from the University of York to assess the cost-effectiveness of the current approach to criminal justice. Given that approximately 70% of prisoners go on to re-offend, the research indicates that prison is not the most effective form of treatment for young adults. Furthermore, with up to 49% of those convicted having been in care, the criminal justice system appears to be compensating for previous failures in social services.


  3.1  Recently published Home Office statistics (from Home Office (2005), Section 95: Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, 2004, London) show that black people are seven times more likely to be in prison than the white majority. Throughout the criminal justice system they are disproportionately targeted. Black people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched. Sentencing also discriminates against black people.

  3.2  The Barrow Cadbury Commission indicates that the disproportionate number of young black people in the criminal justice system is due to three main factors that relate to policing, life chances and transition to adulthood. These points are set out below:

Policing as a Gateway into the Criminal Justice System

  3.3  The role of policing as a gateway into the criminal justice system is an area that requires attention. At one evening debate with local youth in Birmingham, the community police turned up in full uniform and addressed themselves using their formal titles. Needless to say, this immediately drove away the more marginalised and disaffected sections of the public. While anecdotes must not be mistaken for evidence, there is continued cause for concern about the inability of the police to adapt to their local circumstances. This reflects a misuse, perhaps even abuse of their discretionary powers. Nowhere is this more evident than with the abundance of Stop and Search.

  3.4  Focus groups held with young adults in the inner cities of Birmingham, Cardiff and London revealed deep seated resentment of the police:

    "They [the police] like to discriminate against people of colour".

    "I've been stopped in the street ... and been told that there's been a couple of street crimes in the area and that you look like you fit the bill."

    "My friend got stopped on a road by two white officers just because he's a black boy. They said something about his car, he'd just bought the car, it was brand new and everything. And they were like, we're just checking because there's a car been stolen and there's a black boy driving the car."

  3.5  Such perceptions are backed up by the statistics. For example, in the West Midlands (from Home Office (2005), Section 95: Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, 2004, London.):

    While accounting for only 1.6% of the total black population, Black Caribbean people account for 14.3% of the total number of police stops and searched. 8 in every 1000 white people and 44 in every 1,000 Black people have been stopped and searched.

  3.6  Increasingly, young Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are also being stopped and searched. For example, 27 in every 1,000 Asian people have been stopped and searched in England and Wales, compared to only 8 in every 1,000 white people who have been stopped and searched. Although there are likely to be different reasons for this discrimination than there is towards young Black men, many of the impacts are similar.

  3.7  According to the report from the Race Equality Review in Greenwich Righting the Wrongs of Racism undertaken 10 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the police feel justified in targeting black people but seem to remain oblivious to the mistrust this creates in the community. Black communities around Britain view Stop and Search as a form of harassment. It undermines confidence in the police, skews the crime figures and has a negative impact on young people themselves. Young adults feel that the frequency of Stop and Searches, and the way in which they are carried out, demonstrate that the police do not respect them. Young people talk about "fishing expeditions" by the police. There are examples of young people being stopped 37 times in a year.

  3.8  Discretionary powers held by the police are essential in safeguarding communities, however, they must be exercised with greater responsibility. All communities must feel that they are being equally protected and not just policed.

Life Chances

  3.9  The links between growing up in poverty and the routes into crime are clear. Poor living conditions and high unemployment increases the risk of delinquency. Only 60% of working age Black and minority ethnic population are in work compared to 75% of the working age population as a whole. Black Caribbean boys are particularly at risk of being excluded from school. Pakistani and Bangladeshi youth grow up facing three times as much poverty as the average child. Lack of opportunity, poor education and discrimination in the labour market are further compounded once a young person gains a criminal record.

  3.10  With one in five prisoners receiving mental health care, particular attention should be paid to black and minority ethnic young adults, who are overrepresented in both the criminal justice system and in mental health care.

  3.11  The Barrow Cadbury Commission highlights the risk factors that face young people. These include individual choice, family, peer and community support, schooling, economic pressures and drug and alcohol use. A particular problem for those leaving prison is finding accommodation that facilitates entry into gainful employment rather than continued engagement in criminality. Greater attention is needed in understanding the impact of these risk factors and developing protective factors to mitigate against them.

  3.12  Narrowing the Gap (the Fabian Society report into Life Chances) talks about accumulating disadvantage. Within deprived communities such as Handsworth/Lozells in Birmingham, young people, many formerly involved in gangs, are themselves taking responsibility to overcome their cumulative disadvantage and improve their prospects. A gradual growth in small enterprises and self employment reveals a strong desire to identify alternative career paths.

Transition to Adulthood

  3.13  Barrow Cadbury Trust believes that the extension of the support provided by the Youth Justice Board to young adults would reduce the overrepresentation of black young people.

  3.14  Using age as the arbitrary division between youth and adult criminal justice systems is unwise and prevents sensible approaches for dealing with well-understood problems of young adult offenders. Other European systems allow for flexibility in sentencing for young adults in transition.

  3.15  In the long term, a unified criminal justice system should be developed which removes the need for two separate systems and which enables interventions to be tailored to the maturity and needs of the individual. In the meantime, there is a need at least, for T2A (Transition to Adulthood) Teams. T2A Teams and the T2A Champion should give special attention to the needs and special circumstances of young black and minority ethnic adults. This should include ongoing scrutiny of programmes and policies to ensure they do not treat young black and minority ethnic adults with disproportionate severity and sustained efforts are made to develop culturally appropriate interventions for distinct groups of young adult offenders.


  4.1  In relation to the police, the Barrow Cadbury Commission recommends the following actions:

    (a)  Independent Police Complaints Commission and Home Office Stop and Search Action Team should convene an advisory group of young adults in order to enter an ongoing dialogue about policing of young people, in particular, highlighting the disproportionate impact of policing on black and minority ethnic young adults.

    (b)  Police should develop local community forums for engaging with young adults to develop more community sensitive discretionary policing practices towards youth and to enable them to influence policing priorities and strategies. The forum should be used to share local "Section 95" statistics on race and the criminal justice system, and to publicise the complaints procedure. The forums should use community mediators.

  4.2  The overrepresentation of African Caribbean young men and increasingly Pakistani and Bangladeshi young men in prisons signifies the need for an overhaul of a system that puts criminal justice before social justice. Greater investment is required in increasing desistence. Education and employment practices require improvement, mental health and drug/alcohol treatment should be more readily available outside the criminal justice system and access to housing is important for those leaving prison.

  4.3  Fundamentally, the HASC are asked to consider the importance of T2A teams in unifying the two distinct and artificially separated justice systems. Youth justice and adult justice are hard to differentiate for those aged 18-24—any delineation is necessarily arbitrary. Young adults, irrespective of their ethnicity, should be treated according to the maturity of their circumstances and not on artificial age barriers. Young people should be able to rely on a seamless service according to their level of maturity rather than face a cliff edge on the day they happen to turn 18.

  4.4  To tackle these issues, Barrow Cadbury Trust is independently pursuing solutions. Activities commissioned so far, include the following:

    (a)  Identifying local approaches that develop pioneering approaches. It is already clear that young black people want to move away from the guns and gangs culture that have come to dominate their communities. Solutions are surfacing from within the community.

    (b)  Partnership projects with the Prison Reform Trust and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies on improving sentencing policy.

    (c)  Piloting T2A (Transition to Adulthood) Teams in Birmingham and in London.

    (d)  Promoting the partnership between employers and education providers in improving the prospects of those with criminal records.

  4.6  Barrow Cadbury Trust is available to provide further information about any of the points raised here.

June 2006

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