Bar Council calls on Treasury to fund Lammy Review proposals

Race-blind prosecuting decisions, deferred prosecutions and the publication of judicial sentencing remarks were among the recommendations of a report from Labour MP David Lammy.

The proposals are designed to combat what the review found to be racial bias and discrimination in the criminal justice system.

The review showed that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds make up 25% of the prison population and 41% of the youth justice system, despite being 14% of the general population.

It found a lack of trust of legal-aid funded solicitors, who the report said were often viewed as representing ‘the system’ rather than their clients’ interests.

It recommended that the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency should work with the Law Society and Bar Council to experiment with different approaches to explaining legal rights and options to defendants.

These could include intermediaries to give suspects in custody a choice between different duty solicitors and earlier access to advice from barristers.

Robin Allen QC, Chair of the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity and Social Mobility Committee, said the publication was a major contribution to the important and urgent task of securing a fair and equal criminal justice system.

He said the report and its recommendations require proper consideration, and that the Bar Council would continue to play its part in developing initiatives, such as its ‘judgecraft’ foundation course which is ‘well on foot’.

He called on the Treasury to find the funds for the Ministry of Justice to take the proposals forward.

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