Social exclusion and discrimination fuel black overrepresentation in criminal justice system, MPs find

A combination of social exclusion and discrimination is fuelling the overrepresentation of young black people in the criminal justice system, a parliamentary enquiry into the subject has found.

The home affairs select committee report found that while young black people made up 2.7% of 10- to 17-year-olds, they accounted for 8.5% of all arrests for the age group.

It also said young black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white counterparts, and once they had been charged they were less likely to be given bail than whites.

The report found that a combination of deprivation, educational underachievement and school exclusion fuelled offending among young black people. But it said overrepresentation was also caused by discrimination in the criminal justice system and young black people’s distrust of the police and other agencies.

The committee called on the government to redouble its efforts to tackle overrepresentation of young black people in the criminal justice system and recommended a single cross-departmental strategy to tackle the root causes.

Paul Cavadino, chief executive of crime reduction charity Nacro, praised the report, saying: “It clearly shows the need to tackle deprivation and discrimination together.”

However, he said Nacro was disappointed that the committee did not recommend targets to reduce discrimination, adding: “It is clear to us that the majority of disproportionate representation of young black people in the system is due to discrimination. I don’t think the criminal justice system should be exempted from other agencies where it has been found that one group is getting a better service than another.”

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Louise Hunt

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