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Call for Royal Commission on racism in justice system


The Black Londoners Forum (BLF) today backed calls for a Royal Commission to investigate racism in the criminal justice system.

BLF, which represents 2000 BME voluntary organisations in the capital, believes only an inquiry with special powers can crack the problem of institutional racism.

BLF’s call follows a Commons Home Affairs Committee session earlier today investigating Black youth and criminal justice.

Eroll Walters, BLF’s interim director, said a Royal Commission was needed todrill down into the cause of massive disproportionality in policing and the court system.

He said: “MPs appeared to be only touching the surface of a major crisis that sees Black people disproportionately stopped and searched, arrested, charged, denied bail, and given higher sentences for like-for-like crimes compared to white criminals. At every level of the criminal justice system we see evidence of serious and endemic institutionalised racism.

“MPs have been rightly concerned about what the Black community can do to improve the situation. However it is increasingly clear that the best way to get institutional change is to hold a Royal Commission.

“We need to drill down into what is really happening inside the system. And while it is right that the Home Affairs Committee hear what key figures in the Black community have to say, I believe we need a Royal Commission to put the heads of the Crown Prosecution System, the judiciary and the police under the microscope.”

BLF is appalled at the gaps in ‘ethnic monitoring’ across the criminal justice system, particularly in some courts, and suspects that disproportionality will be even worse once the true picture is revealed.

The organisation believes there is no evidence to suggest that Black communities are any more likely to commit crime overall compared to other races.

Giving evidence to the committee, Lee Jasper, the Mayor of London’s director of policing and equalities, cited both direct and institutional racism at practically all stages of the criminal justice system as well as socio-economic and cultural factors such as poverty, sub-standard housing and a lack of positive male role models in the home, as reasons for the over-representation of young Black men in the criminal justice system.

The Rev Nims Obunge representing the Peace Alliance and the Black Church Leaders Forum also gave evidence and recommended a five-point solution including proper parenting, effective education, celebrated achievement, mobilised communities and sustainable enterprise.

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