Black people much more likely to be jailed over criminal offences than white people, research suggests

The research has been conducted as part of MP David Lammy's wider review of racism in the UK

Siobhan Fenton
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 16 November 2016 01:08
Research has suggested an 'unconscious racial bias' may be at the root. Stock image
Research has suggested an 'unconscious racial bias' may be at the root. Stock image

Black and ethnic minority people are much more likely to be jailed for committing a crime than white people, research has suggested.

The study, compiled as part of a landmark review into racism in the criminal justice system, found stark inequality in likelihood of sentencing for both black and Asian people, compared to white convicts. For every 100 white women handed custodial sentences at crown courts for drug offences, 227 black women were given prison terms.

For black men, the figure was not as marked but still considerably higher, with 141 black men jailed for every 100 white men.

The likelihood of receiving a custodial sentence also varied by crime. Regarding convictions for sexual offences, 208 black men and 193 Asian men received jail terms for every 100 white men.

The report has suggested that “unconscious racial bias” in criminal justice may exist and therefore require further investigation to establish how it shapes sentencing.

Labour MP David Lammy who is leading the probe into racism in the criminal justice system said: “These emerging findings raise difficult questions about whether ethnic minority communities are getting a fair deal in our justice system.

“We need to fully understand why, for example, ethnic minority defendants are more likely to receive prison sentences than white defendants. These are complex issues and I will dig deeper in the coming months to establish whether bias is a factor.”

Mr Lammy’s final recommendations from the review are due to be presented to ministers next spring.

With additional reporting by Press Association

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