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Systems Change

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Why is equity, diversity and inclusion in criminal justice important?

The CJA scrutinises criminal justice policies and practices for their discriminatory impact and calls for changes to improve outcomes for individuals with protected characteristics. Previous work has included warning that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will deepen racial inequality in the criminal justice system; advocating for a greater focus on the needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims of crime; and exploring the effectiveness of independent custody visitors in monitoring race and gender equality in police custody.

For the criminal justice system to be fair and effective, criminal justice agencies must ensure all individuals have an equal opportunity to thrive, 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.

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.

We work to remove systemic bias in several ways. We hold policy makers to account, ensuring they are meeting their requirements under the Public Sector Equality Duty. We advocate for policies and services to be co-designed with people from minoritised groups. And we call for greater racial diversity in the criminal justice workforce and promote more inclusive practices from sector employers.


Our recent work:

Race and gender equality in police custody

In this report, we look at the effectiveness of independent custody visitors in monitoring the treatment and welfare of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and women in police custody. We find examples of positive work but raise concerns that some custody visitors lack understanding of indirect discrimination and institutional racism and that panels are not diverse enough.

Read the report

CJA Director discusses ways to improve race equality

Nina Champion recently appeared on the One Small Thing JUSTICE podcast and discussed the CJA’s work to build a more diverse workforce and ensure scrutiny and accountability in the criminal justice system.

Listen to the podcast

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. 

Listen to young people highlight their concerns below.


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.  

Find out more

The Victims’ Code and Victims’ Law

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. 

We also contributed to the Victims’ Commissioner’s proposals for a Victims’ Law, drawing on a roundtable we held to call for a greater focus on the needs of Black, Asian and minority ethnic victims. Read a comment from Director Nina Champion on the Victims’ Law proposals