In June, with the death of George Floyd as the catalyst, the Black Lives Matter movement became front page news again, as thousands rose up across the USA and beyond, leading to many protests here in the UK as well.
At Prison Fellowship, we are paying attention. We know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are over-represented in the UK criminal justice system.
We believe that every single person is made is God’s image and has the same innate worth. We know and believe that Black Lives Matter. And so it troubles and pains us that the system is not fair, and that black men in particular bear the weight of that injustice.
The Lammy Review in 2017 was an independent parliamentary review into the treatment of, and outcomes for BAME individuals in the criminal justice system. It laid out the extent of the problem and made clear, realistic recommendations —many of which still need to be fully implemented.
The review found that, despite making up just 14% of the population, BAME men and women make up 25% of prisoners, while over 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds. There is no single explanation for the disproportionate representation.
Lammy proposed three core principles to guide the response:
- robust systems in place across the Criminal Justice System (CJS) to ensure fair treatment;
- a focus on increasing trust in the CJS, and
- shared responsibility beyond the CJS with local community groups, police, schools and parents.
As Christians, we are called to lament injustice in all its forms and work towards true justice and restoration. As an organisation, we are already on this journey, but the events and conversations of the past weeks have reminded us that we must not become apathetic or passive. We need to listen more, justify less and do better personally and collectively. We can and must do more.
If you feel moved to action, read our article on how to write to your MP, and ask what steps they are taking to ensure the implementation of recommendations in The Lammy Review.
Read PF Trustee, Rev Kevin Dawkins’ own reflections on racism within the church and the Criminal Justice System.