The Lammy Review, chaired by David Lammy MP, is an independent report into the treatment of, and effects on, BAME individuals in the CJS. The review highlights, in particular, the specific issues regarding the outcomes for children from BAME communities – as Lammy himself states:
‘My biggest concern is with the youth justice system’.
The review finds that while 14% of the general UK population are from the BAME community, the proportion of those in youth custody is currently over 40%.
Key concerns include:
· There is evidence of BAME children entering the CJS at a younger age than their white counterparts.
· BAME, and specifically Black children, are more likely to be remanded to youth detention than their white counterparts.
· There is evidence of BAME children more regularly receiving custodial sentences for committing less serious crimes
· BAME offenders are less likely to have issues such as learning difficulties or mental health concerns identified in prison receptions. This lack of vital information (including substance misuse and risk of self-harm) is reported to be largely due to a mistrust of the system by the young people it is designed to support. It is conceded that that this caution is deep rooted in many of the BAME young people who find themselves in custody and developed, for instance, from negative experiences at school or mental health services.
The high numbers of young BAME offenders in custody highlights the need not just to consider the needs of children of BAME offenders, but also the siblings of offenders who may be significantly impacted by the separation from a close brother or sister.