JUSTICE’s Chief Executive, Fiona Rutherford, has today written to the Home Secretary, copying in the Mayor of London, in relation to the appointment of the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The letter draws attention to the JUSTICE report Tackling Racial Disparity: Children and the Youth Justice System (2021) and its recommendations which are of particular relevance to removing racial bias within the youth justice system.
The letter highlights our findings that racism is an incontrovertible reality of our justice system, and particularly so in its impact on children. Children from ethnic minorities make up 18% of the 10 to 17 year old population and yet 52% of the same age group in custody are from ethnic minorities. Children from ethnic minorities are also less likely to be diverted away from the criminal justice system. Instead, they are more likely to be stopped and searched, remanded in custody, and subsequently receive a custodial sentence. This is unacceptable, and requires urgent redress. Moreover, it is evident that the actions of the Metropolitan Police have further eroded the trust of ethnic minority communities in London.
JUSTICE calls for the new Commissioner to be equipped to recognise and to address the entrenched injustices faced by these communities. Our report’s 45 positive and practical recommendations would go some way to achieve that aim, such as:
- abolishing the Gangs Violence Matrix;
- suspending further section 60 stops and searches pending a Home Office review;
- enforcing mandatory child-focused training for all police;
- requiring all complaints concerning children be investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct; and
- mandating that police turn on their body worn video cameras before every stop and search so that improper conduct is prevented or caught.
It is only actions such as these that will demonstrate the necessary commitment to meeting the legitimate expectations of London’s ethnic minority communities. JUSTICE hopes that this will be a key focus when considering the candidates for the new Commissioner.
JUSTICE’s Chief Executive, Fiona Rutherford, said:
“It is disappointing that, 23 years on from the findings of Sir William MacPherson that Stephen Lawrence’s murder had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”, the Metropolitan Police, and its culture, have not made progress. We call on the Home Secretary to ensure that the new Commissioner is equipped to take these deep structural issues seriously. London’s communities impacted by discriminatory policing practices deserve better”.
Read Fiona Rutherford’s letter here.
Read the full press release here.
Please direct any enquiries to Stephanie Needleman, Legal Director.