Judge highlights the injustice that prejudice inflicts on black people

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The Independent Online
TREVOR HALL, a black legal adviser to the Government and a senior civil servant, has been stopped by the police 34 times in the past 10 years, writes Heather Mills.

His white counterpart, Mr Justice Brooke, a High Court judge, has been stopped just once.

This was one illustration painted by Mr Justice Brooke, chairman of the Law Commission, of the way black people are at risk of injustice because of discrimination at every stage of the criminal justice system.

In a speech at the Bar School in London last night, the judge said: 'If the same people receive this detriment at different stages of their experience of criminal justice agencies, the effect will be compounded and will lead to the alienation which we so often see on our television screens in major cities of the United States today.'

Giving the eighth Kapila Fellowship lecture, he said the gulf of understanding was widest between black people in inner cities and white people in authority.

Most of the problems were caused by ignorance and that gave way to 'three grave risks' - of creating offence and hurt; of causing injustice and getting things badly wrong, through lack of knowledge about people's cultures and body language; and causing injustice by failing to acknowledge subconscious discrimination.

He said the 'wogs begin at Calais' syndrome was part of the 'Englishman's cultural baggage'.

Mr Hall is the vice-chairman of Ethnic Minorities Advisory Committee of the Judicial Studies Board, headed by Mr Justice Brooke. They are of a similar age and outlook. The judge said Mr Hall's personal experience 'enables him to bring to life far more vividly than I ever could the attitude of many young black people - and many not so young - to what appears as an indivisible criminal justice system which they see to be unfair and biased against them.'

His speech came two days after Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, gave the go- ahead for a two-year, pounds 1m programme to train judges in racial awareness.