Britain to investigate possible racial bias in courts

London, Feb 1 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked his lawmakers to investigate possible racial bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities in the country’s criminal justice system, Downing Street announced on Sunday.

At present, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals make up more than a quarter of prisoners, compared to 14 percent of the wider population of England and Wales, according to statistics released by Downing Street, Xinhua reported.

Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate 24 percent of Crown Court defendants, and those found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders.

“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white. We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination,” Cameron said in a statement.

The prime minister has appointed David Lammy, a member of parliament, to lead a review of the criminal justice system in England and Wales to investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities.

Lammy was asked to report back in the spring of 2017 and provide recommendations to reduce the proportion of BAME individuals in the criminal justice system and make sure that all suspects and offenders are treated equally.

The review will consider BAME people’s treatment and outcomes to identify and help tackle potential bias or prejudice, according to Downing Street.

It will address issues arising from the point of arrest onwards, including through the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community.

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