The Government is to refuse to commit to recruiting more ethnic minority judges, The Independent understands, despite the fact that just 7 per cent currently come from a minority background.
Ministers are expected to refuse calls to adopt a clear target for appointing more ethnic minority judges by 2025 when they publish their response to David Lammy’s government review into the treatment of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the justice system.
The Labour MP had recommended a national target as a key step to increasing diversity in the judiciary.
In his review, published in September, Mr Lammy said: “The Government should set a clear, national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025. It should then report to Parliament with progress against this target biennially.”
However, the Ministry of Justice is understood to have rejected the suggestion.
While a number of Mr Lammy’s other recommendations have been adopted, including proposals to increase the number of BAME people in senior roles in prisons, the Tottenham MP said he was “disappointed” that the Government has refused to adopt a national target on diversity of judges, and warned ministers: “More of the same will not work”.
He said: “I am pleased to see the Government take forward recommendations for targets on the diversity of our Prison Governors and senior leadership, however I am disappointed that the Government have not felt able to move forward on targets or goals to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy.
“I found that the lack of diversity within our judiciary and magistracy has a significant effect on the trust deficit that I found in Britain’s BAME communities in relation to how the justice system is perceived. My review demonstrated the lack of progress over the last decade in improving diversity amongst the judges that sit in our courts, and I am clear that more of the same will not work”.
The Lammy review found evidence of widespread “racial bias” in the justice system, with black people four times more likely to be in prison in England and Wales than their proportion of the population would suggest. Young black people are nine times more likely to be locked up then their white peers, Mr Lammy found.
As he prepared to publish the Government’s formal response to the review, David Lidington, the Justice Secretary, said: “This Government is committed to exposing injustice wherever it exists. Where we cannot explain differences in outcomes for different groups, we will reform.
“Effective justice simply cannot be delivered unless everyone has full confidence in our Criminal Justice System.
“This is the very first step in a change of attitude towards race disparity that will touch on every part of the criminal justice system for years to come.”