“In March 2021, over 70 organisations and individuals signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for the government to withdraw the discriminatory clauses of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and consult with organisations representing Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. We have now received a response from the justice minister responsible for race in the criminal justice system, Alex Chalk MP.
“Unfortunately, despite welcoming our scrutiny of the equality statements, no changes have been made to the Bill. In relation to our concerns about the lack of consultation, the minister has offered opportunities for us to raise issues at roundtables as the Bill progresses. Several members of the coalition attended such a roundtable recently and raised concerns about the impact the Bill will have on race inequality, but no changes to the Bill have been forthcoming. The minister suggests they are happy to ‘continue the discussion and take us through their thinking’, which would be informing, not meaningfully consulting.
“We know there are many people in the civil service working hard to implement the recommendations of the Lammy Review and tackle race disparity in the criminal justice system, but those positive efforts risk being undermined by these new discriminatory laws which will see more Black, Asian and minority ethnic people swept into the criminal justice system and for longer periods of their lives. The government claims such legislation will protect the public, but admits there is limited evidence the Bill will reduce crime. Instead, the Bill could increase reoffending, as imprisoning more people will result in more violence and self-harm in prisons and fewer resources for rehabilitation.
“The minister says they are implementing safeguards to prevent new policies deepening inequality, and yet that is exactly what we have demonstrated this Bill will do. The Bill is being rushed through parliament, returning to the House of Commons for its third reading this afternoon. But there is still time for the government to withdraw the discriminatory clauses, meaningfully consult and make the changes needed to tackle and not entrench race inequality in our society.”