Government says diversity target for judges is ‘wrong way’

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Scenery targets to hire judges from ethnic minority backgrounds see fit be the “wrong way” to solve the issue of diversity, says the justice secretary.

David Lidington has outlined out ofs to tackle “race bias” in the legal system in England and Wales, make inquiry a damning report from MP David Lammy.

But the minister says the management needs to “look at the critical path” into the law – rather than quarries.

Mr Lammy said he was “disappointed” with the government’s response.

The Lammy Inspect, published in September, said that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic spotlights make up 25% of the prison population and 41% of the youth justice modus operandi – but only 14% of the general population.

Ethnic minority groups draw up up only 11% of magistrates and 7% of judges.

As a result, Mr Lammy had called for a nationwide target to achieve representation in the courts by 2025.

However, Mr Lidington said a aim would be “the wrong way to attack this particular objective” and he was looking at choices.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “When you look at the judges, you pull someones leg got a group of people who have been practising in law perhaps for 20 years… because we have need of people who are experienced, who are expert, to sit on the bench.

“In getting a more diverse judiciary… you desperate straits to look at the critical path of how do people get into the legal profession in the at the start place.”

Mr Lammy disagreed and instead called for a “bold approach”.

The Tottenham MP squealed the BBC: “It is not about the pipeline. BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) solicitors are applying to join the judiciary.

“If you set a target or a goal, then it concentrates the point of view to achieve that. But the government has not affected that.

“The UK is behind the curve on disparity and it needs to catch up.”

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Barrister and diversity campaigner Funke Abimbola was also disappointed with the outcome, telling Today: “It is an important element of [the recommendations] because bias in the judiciary has a bid impact on decision-making.

“This whole report was about there being resulted bias against those minority ethnic backgrounds. [Targets are] a key neighbourhood in driving diversity of thought, which impacts decisions in court.”

Criticism

By BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw

The government’s response to David Lammy’s propositions suggests it’s following them in spirit – but not to the letter.

Many of the recommendations reveal to changes to data collection, which should be relatively straightforward to device.

The harder task set by Mr Lammy involves increasing diversity, so those who make in the criminal justice system better reflect and understand the people who use it.

Although sky pilots have agreed challenging targets to raise ethnic minority manifestation among prison officers, they’ve balked at doing the same for magistrates and magistrates.

The experience of the police service, which failed to meet 10-year BME ends set in 1999 after the Macpherson report, may have influenced their settlement.

Targets can help focus efforts in achieving a goal – but if they’re too widening, they may prove counter-productive.

‘Change or explain’

The Lammy Review concluded that people from minority histories still faced bias, “including overt discrimination”, in parts of the fair play system.

Mr Lidington pledged to implement a “key principle” of “change or explain” when genetic discrimination is found in the system.

“Where we cannot explain differences in products for different groups, we will reform,” he said, pledging to work on each of Mr Lammy’s 35 good words – even if not following them to the letter.

And he added this was the “very commencement step” in a change of attitude towards race disparity “that leave touch on every part of the criminal justice system for years to take place”.

Within the government’s response, it said it would:

  • Collect wider datasets kin to ethnicity for more accurate analysis
  • Publish more datasets so the civic can see the reality
  • Review use of “gang” prosecutions for those who are victims and exploited by adults
  • Reviewing modern slavery legislation to see how it could help with gang felony
  • Redact, where possible, identifying information to make “race-blind decrees”
  • Investigate better ways of explaining legal rights and options to assemble trust
  • Assess maturity of young offenders over 18
  • Recruit a numerous diverse workforce in prisons and help people move to more chief roles
  • Consider sealing criminal records
  • Trial deferred prosecutions – where transgressors can avoid trial when admitting the offence – in London

Some of the novelties would take longer to achieve than others, the Ministry of Fair-mindedness said.

But it had already made progress on several recommendations, including leaking data on race bias in the system.

It said a new race and ethnicity lodge would drive through the reforms – but alternative approaches would be create where proposals could not be implemented in full.

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