BLACK AND mixed ethnicity women are more than twice as likely as white women in the general population to be arrested, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust.
Black women are also more likely than other women to be remanded or sentenced to custody and are 25 per cent more likely than white women to receive a custodial sentence following a conviction, the report reveals.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women make up 11.9 per cent of the women’s population in England and Wales, but account for 18 per cent of the women’s prison population.
Other key findings in the Prison Reform Trust report include:
Black, Asian and minority ethnic women are more likely to plead not guilty in the Crown Court, leaving them open to potentially longer prison sentences if convicted.
While in prison, black, Asian and minority ethnic women consistently report feeling less safe.
Many report experiencing racial and religious discrimination from other prisoners and from staff while in prison.
The research was published ahead of The Lammy Review, chaired by David Lammy MP, an independent review commissioned by the Prime Minister of the treatment of, and outcomes for, black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system.
The report was submitted to the Lammy review ahead of its launch later this week (September 8), to highlight the overlooked inequalities experienced by many BAME women in the criminal justice system. The report included a number of recommendations, including:
The forthcoming Government strategy on female offenders, to be published this year, should include specific measures to improve outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic women, and women from minority faith communities in contact with the criminal justice system.
National and local government, as well as criminal justice agencies, should improve data monitoring and publishing practices to allow analysis of performance by both race and gender.
The representation of women from minority ethnic groups in the criminal justice workforce, as well as in juries, should be increased to better reflect the communities that they serve and achieve cultural change.
According to the Trust, progress in tackling racial discrimination and over-representation in the justice system has been too slow and needs to be challenged with more robust measures.
Jenny Earle, director of the Prison Reform Trust’s programme to reduce women’s imprisonment said:
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“This briefing lays bare the racial inequalities and disadvantages that women experience in the criminal justice system.
“With the report of the Lammy review imminent and the Government strategy on women offenders due later in the year, the briefing is timely and makes a compelling case for investment in dedicated women’s community services rather than more prisons.”