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NEW STATISTICS ON RACE & THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM PUBLISHED

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The most comprehensive statistical report on race in the criminal justice system has been published by home office ...
The most comprehensive statistical report on race in the criminal justice system has been published by home office minister Paul Boateng.

Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 1998 details developments in ethnic monitoring and statistics covering:

- Police and Criminal Evidence Act - Stops and searches

- Arrests and cautions

- Homicides

- Persons supervised by the probation service

- Ethnic composition of the prison population

- Number of racial incidents recorded by the police

- Employment of ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system

The report records the most accurate information to date on ethnic minority contact with the criminal justice system as victims, offenders and employees.

Main findings in the report show:

- Substantial differences in how police forces use their powers to stop and search, arrest or caution suspects

- Black people were more likely than white or Asian people to be stopped, searched and arrested but were less likely to be cautioned

- Recorded racial incidents rose by 6 per cent last year

- People of minority ethnic origin are under-represented in the police, prison service, lay magistracy and senior posts in all criminal justice agencies

Mr Boateng said:

'Ensuring the equal treatment of all those that come into contact with the criminal justice system is a key priority for the government - whoever you are victim, witness, defendant or employee.

'Agencies need a full and accurate picture of race in the criminal justice system. This report is a vital tool in creating that picture.

'The government is leading on a range of initiatives throughout the criminal justice system aimed at addressing race issues. These include working with the police to develop an additional ministerial priority on race and setting targets on their performance.

'A revised draft code of practice on the exercise of stop and search powers which stresses that supervising officers must address any evidence that stop and search powers are being used in a discriminatory way has been laid before parliament.

'And of course, the Crime and Disorder Act introduced the new racial aggravated offences which provides the courts with higher maximum penalties to reflect the racial aspect of the crime.

'The home secretary has also announced that targets for recruitment, retention and promotion of minority ethnic staff within the home office and its services will be developed.'

NOTES

1. The exercise of police stop and search powers is currently regulated by the Code of Practice issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. A public consultation exercise has recently been completed on the revision of this Code of Practice and a revised draft was placed before Parliament on Monday 7 December for approval.

2. Copies of Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 1998 can be obtained from 0171 273 2084.

3. RDS publications are also available as Adobe Acrobat files on the Home Office website http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/index.htm

Summary of Main Findings

In 1997/98:

- The latest estimates indicate that 2 per cent of the population aged 10 and over in England and Wales were of black ethnic origin, 3 per cent of Asian origin and 1 per cent 'other' non-white ethnic groups.

- 1 million stops and searches were carried out by the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) of which 11 per cent were of black people, 5 per cent Asian and 1 per cent 'other' non white origin. Police forces varied in their use of powers for stop and search under PACE. Black people were, on average, 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people. The use of these powers for Asians and 'other' ethnic group varied widely.

- 2 million arrests took place of which 7 per cent were of black people, 4 per cent Asian and 1 per cent 'other' non-white origin. Black people were more likely to be arrested than white or other ethnic groups.

- About 280 thousand persons were cautioned by the police for all offences (excluding motoring) of which 5 per cent were of black people, 4 per cent Asian and 1 per cent 'other' non-white ethnic origin. Cautioning was used less frequently for black people than for white and 'other' ethnic groups.

- 1,230 homicides were recorded in 1996/97 and 1997/98 of which 9 per cent were of black people, 6 per cent Asian and 3 per cent 'other' non-white ethnic origin; 8 were recorded as being racially motivated. The police were less likely to identify suspects for homicides involving black victims than for white or those from other ethnic groups.

- 7 per cent of persons commencing probation orders, 10 per cent commencing community service and combination orders and 18 per cent of the prison population were of non- white ethnic origin.

- Racial incidents rose by 6 per cent to 13,880 ' possibly reflecting better reporting and recording of such incidents.

- Ethnic minorities are under-represented in the police service, prison service, lay magistracy and senior posts in all the criminal justice agencies. Recent information shows that ethnic minorities from a significant proportion of new entrants to the legal profession (25 per cent of those enrolling on the Bar Vocational Course in

October 1997).

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