30% of children held on remand in the UK are Black

Nationally 30% of all children held on remand in the UK are Black. That’s the shocking finding of Transform Justice and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

The data was revealed following a Freedom of Information request.

Director of Transform Justice, Penelope Gibbs said: “This huge racial disparity in the treatment of London’s children cannot be explained away. Remand separates children from their families and disrupts their education, and yet most children who are remanded do not go on to receive a prison sentence. 

The Howard League also reveals in a research briefing that in the past nine years the number of children being arrested has fallen but the figure for Black kids have stayed stubbornly high. Overall there were 71,885 in 2019.

Black kids are four times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.

Using the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) designator, 51% of children incarcerated were from those backgrounds, as at September 2020.

Children who are victims of county line gangs or trafficking are being treated as criminals by police when they are in fact the victims.

The government as usual has some soothing words to balm the wounds:

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We are working across government to tackle the deep-rooted causes of BAME children’s over-representation in the criminal justice system. This includes reviewing the disproportionate use of remand, along with improving legal advice and developing schemes for early intervention.”

So yet more reviews, but nothing will happen to free the children ensnared in the British injustice system until radical action is taken to force change.

The findings of the Lammy Review into racial inequality in the justice system have still not been acted upon, despite the government indicating that it would follow through on the review’s recommendations.

Excerpt from the Howard League research briefing:

The large reduction in the numbers of child arrests in the last decade is a success story but the data shows continued inequalities for Black children and those from minority ethnic backgrounds who have not benefitted from efforts to divert children to the same extent as white children. Government figures reveal that Black children are over four times as likely as white children to be arrested. The proportion of
white children arrested has fallen by 13 per cent over the last ten years, whilst the proportion of Black children arrested has doubled to 16 per
cent (Youth Justice Board, 2020).

The disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on Black children and children from ethnic minority backgrounds grows
exponentially as children progress through the system, resulting in huge disparities in the numbers held on remand and serving sentences in child prisons. In September 2020, 51 per cent (273) of the 536 children
held in youth custody were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (HM Prison and Probation Service, 2020). In Feltham and
Cookham Wood prisons, around two-thirds of children being held on remand are Black or from minority ethnic backgrounds (Howard
League for Penal Reform, 2020a).

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