The Ministry of Justice has today responded to David Lammy's review of the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system. The response is available here.
Commenting on the response, John Bache, National Chairman of the Magistrates Association, said:
"The Magistrates Association welcomes the Government's response to the Lammy Review. Over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the justice system has long been a concern for the MA and we are pleased to see the Ministry of Justice taking steps to ensure that it is addressed. The MA is fully committed to contributing to work which addresses the issues identified in David Lammy's important report and looks forward to working with the Ministry of Justice, the new Race and Ethnicity Board and other partners in taking forward today's action plan."
On diversity of the magistracy, he said:
"The MA recognises the need for a diverse magistracy and will continue to work with the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Office and other key stakeholders to ensure that magistrates are recruited from all backgrounds. More can and should be done to ensure that vacancies within the magistracy are widely advertised to those who might not otherwise be aware of them and we are keen to support further work to ensure that this is the case.
"It must be recognised that recent progress in improving diversity – in the last decade the proportion of magistrates who are from BAME backgrounds has increased from 7% to 11% – will not necessarily be sustained without ongoing work to ensure that opportunities to become a magistrate are advertised to everyone. This requires a proactive approach that ensures that the role of the magistracy and the benefits of becoming a magistrate are widely understood, and that specific activity is undertaken to actively engage underrepresented groups."
On plans to further test the deferred prosecution model piloted in the West Midlands, he added:
"There can be significant benefits to diverting offenders – and particularly young people – from a formal court process. But it is important that out of court disposals are subject to effective scrutiny and appropriate oversight. As the deferred prosecution model is further tested, robust scrutiny processes should be built into the model."
On proposed work to address data gaps in the magistrates' court, he further added:
"The collection and publication of more data on the magistrates' court is welcome and chimes with the MA's own long-standing calls for better data collection in the magistrates' court. Over 90% of all criminal cases are dealt with in magistrates' courts yet there is very limited data available on their operation. The response of the Lammy Review should be seen as an opportunity to address this."
The MA will respond further to today's response to the Lammy Review in due course.