Why is equality, diversity and inclusion in criminal justice important?
Equality is about equal opportunities and protecting people from being discriminated against directly or indirectly. Diversity is about recognising, respecting and valuing differences in people. Inclusion refers to the extent to which individuals feel valued and included.
For the criminal justice system to be fair and effective, criminal justice agencies must ensure equal outcomes for all individuals, regardless of their age, race, sex, religion or any other protected characteristic. However, numerous landmark reviews have found that certain groups face poorer outcomes in the criminal justice system than their peers. To remove the systemic bias embedded in the system, policies and services must be co-designed with people from minority groups.
Public authorities, such as the government and the police, are required under the Public Sector Equality Duty to consider how policies or decisions affect people with protected characteristics. Under the duty, public authorities must have due regard to: eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.
In our work, we scrutinise criminal justice policies for their potential discriminatory impact and call for changes which improve — rather than worsens — inequality in the criminal justice system. We call for greater racial diversity in the criminal justice workforce and promote more inclusive practices from sector employers.
We also use our position on the ministerial Advisory Board for Female Offenders to promote better outcomes for women in the criminal justice system and our role as part of the Transition to Adulthood Campaign Group to highlight the distinct needs of young adults. We are particularly interested in shining a light on the intersectional needs of individuals with more than one protected characteristic.
Our recent work:
New policing and sentencing bill will entrench racial inequality
The CJA coordinated an open letter to the Prime Minister, warning that the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will deepen the racial inequality in the criminal justice system. In the open letter, we call on the government to remove the discriminatory elements of the Bill and launch a proper public consultation.
Increasing the diversity of the criminal justice workforce
One way to improve outcomes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people is to increase the diversity of the criminal justice workforce. In 2020, we brought together experts from across the criminal justice system to explore how we can increase workforce diversity through recruitment, retention, progression and measuring impact.
In 2020, we raised our concerns that removing the right to be referred to a restorative justice service from the Victims’ Code could indirectly discriminate against Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims. Read our response to the government’s consultation on improving the Victims’ Code.