David Lammy: Review of UK Prison System Shows Racial Bias in Sentencing

David Lammy: Review of UK Prison System Shows Racial Bias in Sentencing
David Lammy: Review of UK Prison System Shows Racial Bias in Sentencing

According to a report published by a British Labour MP, UK sentencing data from 2015 shows that members of racial and ethnic minorities were more likely to receive prison sentences for drug offenses than white lawbreakers.

Children in their school uniforms are working as “mules” for London gangs to ferry drugs around the country in sports bags, David Lammy MP said today.

The Labour MP claims teenagers are being terrorised by “kingpins” who exploit vulnerable youngsters and send them by train to destinations across the UK.

The revelation comes in the Labour MP’s detailed report into the treatment of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) by police and the courts.

Lammy’s 18-month investigation concludes that BAME individuals still face “overt discrimination” and calls for a major overhaul of the criminal justice system.

The MP for Tottenham said: “These children are mainly using trains, sometimes in school uniform to go undetected, and carrying a sportsbag with large quantities of drugs.

“They take over a house – called a cuckoo – where they prey on an individual, typically in a shire town and do an operation usually for an adult, or group of adults back here in London.”

Lammy’s report, commissioned by David Cameron, reveals that 41per cent of under-18s in custody are from minority backgrounds, up from 25per cent a decade ago, with young black people nine times more likely to be in youth custody than white children.

Black boys are ten times more likely to be arrested for drug offences.

Lammy said: “Serious organised crime lies behind a lot of violence that affects BAME communities. I heard a lot from communities about kids disappearing for days on end. Young people running drugs as young as 14, running drugs up to Aberdeen down to Portsmouth.

“I saw videos of hooded adults bragging about the way that they look for vulnerable young men often with a lone mother on an estate.

“They want some money, they’re easy to be intimidated and bullied. It’s adults that are trafficking drugs across borders, it’s adults that are giving them guns, creating turf wars and often supplying them with serious weaponry and knives.”

The report, published today, sets out a series of recommendations including the introduction of a US-style system for “sealing” the criminal records of reformed offenders to employers to prevent childhood convictions from blighting future careers.

Other recommendations include introducing a national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025 and “race-blind” prosecuting where possible by redacting identifying information that passes between police and prosecutors.

Lammy concludes: “The disproportionate number of BAME young people in the justice system is a social timebomb. It is beyond time to stop talking about this problem and to act.”

His report brought calls for a comprehensive new strategy.

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Everybody should have full trust in our criminal justice system and the Lammy Review is a major contribution to understanding the challenges we face to achieve this.

“The Government must respond to the review urgently and put in place a comprehensive race strategy with stretching targets to reduce the race inequality that is so apparent in our society.”

Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor David Lidington said: “This Government is committed to shining a light on injustice as never before, because only by revealing issues can we begin to address them.

“We will always seek to drive out discrimination wherever it exists.”


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