33. Memorandum submitted by
the Mayor of London
Young black people are overrepresented at practically
all stages of the criminal justice system. This is a particular
concern for London, which is home to over two-thirds of England
and Wales' black people. Whilst the causes of this overrepresentation
are complex, it cannot be wholly explained by the extent or nature
of offending by young black people. Direct and institutional racism
appear to provide at least part of the explanation. The Mayor
believes that the Committee must focus its efforts on identifying
gaps in data, establishing the detailed causes of the overrepresentation
of young black people and identifying a comprehensive and timetabled
action plan to make real progress in tackling disproportionality.
1. The Mayor of London welcomes the opportunity
to respond to the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into young
black people and the criminal justice system and believes that
that the Committee has chosen a most pressing and important issue
2. The Mayor wants London to become one of the
world's safest cities. This is dependent on having a criminal
justice system that operates effectively and fairly, and which
the public has full confidence in.
3. The Mayor is committed to promoting and protecting
equality of opportunity in London. Race equality is of major importance
to all Londoners as the capital is one of the most diverse cities
in the world and benefits from the richness of cultural diversity
of those who live and work in it.
4. The 2001 Census shows that 2.1 million people
who belong to a black and Asian or minority ethnic groups live
in London. This accounts for 29% of London's population. London
is home to 46% of England and Wales's Black, Asian and Minority
Ethnic (BAME) population, while less than 14% of the total population
of England and Wales live in the capital. London's population
has a higher representation of all minority ethnic groups than
does the national population. In all, over two-thirds of black
people in England and Wales (69%) reside in the capital.
5. One in ten of all Londoners are black. The
proportion is higher still for young black Londoners. According
to the 2001 census, 15% of Londoners aged under-18 were black.
6. Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act
2000, the Greater London Authority has a further legislative drive
to promote race equality and good relations between people of
different racial groups. Under the Greater London Authority Act
1999, the Authority must ensure that it takes into account equality
of opportunity both in the exercise of its functions and in the
formulation of and implementation of any policies, proposals and
7. In this submission the Mayor focuses on young
black people and the criminal justice system. Throughout this
document, when referring to black people, the term "black"
is defined as meaning those of Caribbean or African descent. However,
the inquiry should not neglect the wider issue of the overrepresentation
of BAME (Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic) people, and should
ensure it focuses on the overrepresentation of those of mixed
ethnicity who would classify themselves as Mixed-White and Black
African or Mixed- White and Black Caribbean according to Census
definitions. The Mayor is also concerned that non-black minority
communities in the UK, especially those most affected by poverty,
may increasingly become overrepresented in the criminal justice
system (whether as victims, witnesses or offenders), and would
urge the Committee to pay attention to the issue of the representation
of Asian prisoners, including Muslims.
8. The Mayor is very concerned that black people
are overrepresented at practically all stages of the criminal
justice system. Further, black people are overrepresented as victims
of crime, particularly when specific types of victimisation such
as violent crime, homicide, racist and faith hate crime and robbery
are examined. It is notable that robust data detailing the ethnicity
of witnesses is unavailable; given the overrepresentation of black
victims of crime this is likely to be matched by similar overrepresentation
of black witnesses. In understanding why this is the case the
Committee will need to understand why other ethnic groupsincluding
those which share some key social and demographic characteristicsare
9. Successive editions of the Home Office's
Section 95 Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System
have shown that black people are significantly overrepresented
as suspects, defendants and offenders and significantly underrepresented
as criminal justice system workers, especially at senior levels.
10. Adult black Londoners make up 10% of London's
population. However, they are disproportionately found in the
criminal justice system. In all, adult black Londoners make up:
36% of stop and searches;
27% of those cautioned;
31% of those found guilty;
35% of those in prison;
26% of those on probation.
11. Young black Londoners (aged under-18) are
also overrepresented in the criminal justice systemas shown
YOUNG PEOPLE AND THE YOUTH JUSTICE SYSTEM
|Stop and search||49
|Pre-court decisions ||59
|Dealt with by Youth Offending Teams (YOTs)
12. Young black people in London are three times as likely
as white people to be stopped and searched.
13. The probability of being stopped and searched as a black
person varies widely across London. In some London boroughs with
a relatively small black population, black people are overwhelmingly
more likely than whites to be stopped and searched. In Kingston-upon-Thames
relative to their population black people are 14.4 more times
likely than whites to be stopped and searched and in Richmond-upon-Thames
13.1 times more likely. Whilst some of this discrepancy could
be explained by age profile, it is unlikely to provide anything
like the full explanation. The Mayor does not believe that the
police have been able to satisfactorily explain this worrying
situation, or that borough commanders have been adequately held
14. Stop and search arrests during November 2005 were only
marginally higher for black people than for other ethnicities:
12.3%, compared to 11.2% for white people and 8.6% for Asian people.
This could indicate the disproportionate stop and searching of
black people may be unwarranted, as compared with other ethnic
groups no more black people are being arrested as a consequence
of being stopped. Such disproportionality stigmatises and damages
the confidence of young black people in the police and criminal
justice system as a wholeand may be an unnecessary use
of police resources.
15. Black people accounted for 15% (41,792) of those accused
of recorded crime in London during the nine months up to January
16. Of the 29,872 offences dealt with by London's Youth Offending
Teams in 2004-05, 28.8% involved black offenders, 49.8% white
offenders, 5.8% mixed offenders and 7.7% Asian offenders.
17. The Difference or Discrimination research that
was carried out for the Youth Justice Board, which looked at the
progress of 17,000 young people (aged 12 to 17) at all stages
of the youth justice system in eight YOTs, including three in
London, found a higher rate of prosecutions involving young black
males. The report also found:
a higher rate of prosecution and conviction of
mixed parentage young males;
a higher proportion of prosecutions involving
black young males;
a greater proportion of black and Asian males
who had been remanded in custody before sentence, especially a
greater proportion of black males remanded whose proceedings had
not resulted in a conviction;
a much higher probability that a black male would,
if convicted in a Crown Court, receive a sentence of over 12 months;
a greater likelihood that black and Asian males
(aged 12-15) would be under supervision for over 12 months if
they received one of the more restrictive types of community sentences;
substantial variations between the YOT areas.
18. During 2004-05, 1,588 black youths in London were issued
with pre-court decisionsaccounting for just under 25% of
all youth pre-court decisions in London. The majority of these
(60.8%) were issued a police reprimand, 33.1% were issued a Final
Warning with intervention and 6.1% were issued a Final Warning
without intervention. Despite the general overrepresentation of
black youths these proportions mirror those for other ethnic groups.
19. There were 4,219 young black people sentenced during
2004-05 in London32% of all young people sentenced in London.
Of these, 31% were given a community sentence, 24% a referral
order, 16% fined, 6% granted conditional discharge, 7% given a
compensation order, 3% sentenced to an action plan order and 1%
granted an absolute discharge. The proportion of young black offenders
sentenced to custody was the highest of all ethnic groupsalmost
twice that of white youths (11% compared to 6%).
20. There is substantial overrepresentation, relative to
the numbers of the population, of young black men in the prison
system. Whilst many young offenders from London are held outside
of the capital, at Feltham, the only Young Offender Institution
in London, 258 of the 588 prisoners held there (43.8%) were black
(as of 31 December 2005). In all, 63.6% of Feltham's population
are from BAME groups.
21. Many black prisoners believe they experience racist attitudes.
According to the December 2005 Prisons Inspectorate report Parallel
Worlds: a thematic review of race relations in prisons, most
visible minority prisoners believed there was racism and that
in the main this manifested itself in differential access to the
prison regime and treatment by staff. Black men were most likely
to claim they were victimised by staff.
22. The Mayor would like to draw the Committee's attention
to key reports including Just Justice (Children's Society,
2006), Differences or Discrimination (Feilzer, M and Hood,
R, 2004, Youth Justice Board) and Race and the Criminal Justice
System: An overview to the Complete Statistics 2004-05 (Barclay
et al, Home Office Criminal Justice System Race Unit, 2006),
all of which cite evidence that young black people are no more
likely to offend than young white people, that the overrepresentation
of young black people in the criminal justice system cannot be
explained by their offending, and that once they are in the youth
justice system there is differential treatment of young people,
depending on ethnicity, possibly as a result of institutional
23. When examining self-report data of offending by young
people (eg D Armstrong et al, Children, Risk and Crime, Home Office
Research Survey 278, 2005) there is little evidence to suggest
that black people are more likely to offend than white people.
24. However, in London during the period April 2005 to February
2006, the rate of youths accused per 1000 population was 63 for
black people and 27 for white people. This equates to 2.3 black
youths accused for every one white.
25. These comparative figures varied when looking at different
crime types. Black youths in London are most overrepresented for
robbery and sexual offences accounting for over half of the youths
accused for each offence. The ratios were stark: eight black youths
accused to one white for robbery and six to one for sexual offences.
26. Black youths were also overrepresented (but to a lesser
extent) for those accused of drugs, fraud, violence and theft.
In terms of ratios, 3 black youths were accused for every one
white youth for drugs and fraud offences and two for one for violence
27. Despite only accounting for 11% of Londoners, black people
accounted for 67% of those accused of supplying crack cocaine
and almost 40% of those found in possession in London during 2003-04.
This has particularly significant implications as crack cocaine
addiction also drives a lot of acquisitive crime, some of which
28. Arrest referral statistics show that almost half of arrestees
who reported using crack cocaine were black. A corresponding proportion
of black people might be expected in drug treatment but National
Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) figures have previously
shown only 10% of clients presenting to specialist drug agencies
for crack cocaine treatment are black.
29. These figures may go a significant way to explaining
the overrepresentation of young black people in the criminal justice
system, and especially in custody. However it is important to
note if the public were more likely to report these offences when
the suspect was black, or if the police were more likely to pursue
the investigation and bring charges, then the recorded figures
may not themselves be indicative of the relative levels of offending
by young people from different ethnic groups.
30. The fact that young black people are far more likely
than other ethnicities to be accused of robbery and sexual offences
may also feed into judges' and magistrates' perceptions of black
people as posing a greater risk to the community generally. The
disproportionate involvement of black people in drugs, weapon
enabled crime and homicide is likely to further fuel such stereotypes.
The Mayor would urge the Committee to also examine the role of
the media in perpetuating stereotypes.
31. The Mayor is very concerned that BAME staff are significantly
underrepresented within the criminal justice workforce, especially
at senior levels. He is also concerned that dedicated race equality
training is not mandatory in all criminal justice agencies.
32. Latest figures for January 2006 show that 726 of the
31,012 Metropolitan Police officer workforce (2.3%) were of black
ethnicity; a further 15% of police community support officers
are black. Of the 41 most senior officers at Commander rank or
above two are from a BAME background.
33. Only 24 of the 2,208 members of the judiciary are black.
Not a single one of the 95 high court judges or 34 lord justices
are black (Section 95 Stats, 2005). Nationally, just over 2% (626)
of the 28,300 magistrates are black.
34. Just 1.5% of solicitors with practising certificates
and 2.6% of barristers are black.
35. Not a single member of a London prison senior management
team is black.
36. According to ICM Research carried out in March 2006,
84% of Londoners agree that London's police force should reflect
London's ethnic mix; the same proportion thought the police would
more effectively protect all Londoners if this was the case.
37. There is no doubt that young people from BAME groups
are significantly overrepresented within the youth justice system.
However, it remains unclear how far these differences in representation
are linked to ethnicity alone, or how far they are linked to factors
such as age, socio-economic circumstances, gender, criminal record
and the nature and seriousness of the charge.
38. Young black people are more likely than the general population
to have a history of poor education achievement and a wide range
of health and social needs. This is likely to contribute to their
levels of offending.
Children in London from BAME groups are more likely
to experience poverty.
Black Caribbean/African groups are overrepresented
in London's homeless population.
Black people are overrepresented in the mental
Children from BAME groups are more likely to have
a long-term illness.
In London, in 2003, 32.2% of black Caribbean pupils,
34.5% of "black other" pupils and 43.6% of black African
pupils achieved 5 or more GCSE Grades A*-C, compared with an average
for all pupils of 50.2%. Evidence suggests that inequalities in
attainment for black Caribbean pupils become greater as they move
through the school system and such differences become more pronounced
between the end of primary school and the end of secondary education.
Black young people appear less likely to engage
in voluntary and socio-political activities.
39. The Mayor is concerned that the educational system is
not getting the best out of young black people. From an early
age black children under-achieve in schools. They are also far
more likely than other ethnic groups to be permanently excluded.
Whilst London has lower exclusion rates for black pupils than
most other regions, its black pupils are still twice as likely
as its white pupils to be excluded.
40. This can be explained by socio economic disadvantage,
teacher expectations, length of settlement and schooling in UK,
parental education and aspirations, fluency in English and institutional
racism. There is also a lack of black teachers. Just under 3%
of London teachers are black, compared with one-fifth of all school
41. It is extremely concerning that time and time again research,
including from the Government itself, has shown that the overrepresentation
of black people throughout the criminal justice system cannot
all be explained by the extent and nature of offending. The clear
implication of this is that there is direct and institutional
racism towards black people within the criminal justice system
that is not being adequately addressed.
42. Whilst the Mayor believes that the Committee does need
to review the evidence base and establish the true extent of the
overrepresentation of young black people and the criminal justice
system, in light of the existing evidence he urges the Committee
to focus its efforts on identifying gaps in data, establishing
detailed causes of the overrepresentation of young black people
and identifying a comprehensive and timetabled action plan involving
a wide range of partners to address disproportionality as a matter
of priority. It would be a wasted opportunity if the Committee
restricted itself to merely summarising what is already a rich
43. The Mayor suggests that during the course of the inquiry
the Committee focuses on several key areas:
Identifying gaps in data
The Committee should highlight gaps in data around ethnicity
and crime and make recommendations as to its future collection.
It is unacceptable that, as the Home Office itself has acknowledged
in successive annual overviews of Section 95 statistics on race
and the criminal justice system, there is not as yet sufficiently
robust data and evidence from which to reach definite conclusions
as to the causes of disproportionate representation in the criminal
justice system. This lack of data is particularly critical in
London, which includes such a high percentage of BAME children.
Making criminal justice agencies take responsibility
It must be the responsibility of each criminal justice agency
to provide clear, comprehensive and detailed demographic data
including by ethnicity; this must always be built into the performance-monitoring
framework and rigorously monitored. Each criminal justice agency
in London should also have a dedicated area-based race adviser.
The Mayor was concerned to learn recently that the Prison Service
London Area Manager no longer has a race adviser and urges the
Committee to investigate the rationale behind this and the consequences.
Staffing and training
Whilst it would be over-simplifying to suggest that the overrepresentation
of black people can be explained by their underrepresentation
as workers in the criminal justice system, it is deeply disturbing
that so few black people are to be found working within the criminal
justice system, especially at senior levels. The Committee should
make recommendations to increase the numbers of black workers
within the criminal justice system, including the judiciary. There
is also a need to examine the adequacy of race relations training.
Minimising risk factors of offending
From an early age young black people are more likely than
their white counterparts to have risk factors for offendingincluding
poverty, poor educational achievement and a disrupted family life.
Given this combination of factors it would be highly surprising
if young black people were not overrepresented in the offender
populationthough the underrepresentation of other minority
populations, such as Asian communitiesshows the relationship
is highly complex. The Committee should look at what can explain,
prevent and mitigate these risk factorsfor example by ensuring
that black children receive equal access to high quality education,
wider social support and positive role models. The Mayor urges
the Committee to work with the Education and Skills Select Committee
on the issue of school exclusions and educational achievement.
There is also a need to examine the adequacy of crime prevention
schemes for young black people and the potential mentoring can
A joined-up approach
The Committee should not see the overrepresentation of young
black people in the criminal justice system in isolation. Black
people are overrepresented in the mental health systemas
seen in "Count me in", the first national census of
inpatients in mental health hospitals and facilities, which was
conducted jointly by the Healthcare Commission, the Mental Health
Act Commission and the National Institute for Mental Health in
England in 2006.
44. The Mayor would be happy to provide additional analysis
if required, and further details of the range of community safety
and equalities work that the GLA is involved in. During the course
of the inquiry he would urge the Committee to liaise closely with
Lee Jasper, his Policy Director for Equalities and Policing and
Chair of the London Criminal Justice Board's Race and Diversity
Action Group (which focuses on disproportionality).