OUTCOMES for Black, Asian and minority ethnic people have failed to improve more than five years after the publication of David Lammy’s seminal review of the criminal justice system,  new analysis by the Prison Reform Trust reveals.

The Lammy review into the treatment of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals by the criminal justice system, published in 2017, contained 11 specific recommendations concerning prisons – all accepted by the UK government; as well as three further overarching recommendations on recording, monitoring and acting to address disproportionate outcomes.

In the absence of any published update of progress since 2020, the Prison Reform Trust has gathered evidence of progress against these 14 recommendations to determine whether policies have changed to meet Lammy’s original recommendations and, crucially, whether this has led to a change in outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic prisoners.

Six of the recommendations are rated red – indicating no progress; eight are rated amber – indicating partial progress; and none are rated green – indicating that a recommendation has been met and is having the desired impact.

One of the red-rated recommendations concerns the use of force in prisons. Despite repeated assurances – including in response to a judicial review backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission – regular statistics on the use of force are still not published and there is no available evidence of performance in the application of the use of force policy.

What data are available confirm that Black prisoners are more likely than other ethnic groups to have force used against them, and are far more likely to be subject to the use of batons and PAVA incapacitant spray.

The prison service acknowledges this disparity but there is no evidence that they have applied the central ‘explain or reform’ principle called for in Lammy’s review. There is no explanation and while policy measures including a ‘use of force good practice guide’ and national governance of PAVA use have been introduced, the problem persists, and the rollout of PAVA spray carries on regardless.

A recent thematic report by HM Inspectorate of Prisons highlighted the scale of the challenge that remains in bridging radically different perceptions of the extent of racism in prisons. Black prisoners and staff described examples of persistent race discrimination in their prison, while white staff felt there was very little or none.

The Prison Reform’ Trust says that the Government’s response to that report, published on 22 March, contains a sequence of further promised initiatives but no evidence to change its assessment of progress against the Lammy recommendations.

* Read the Lammy Review here and the Prison Reform Trust’s analysis Lammy: Five Years On here.

* The government’s response to the HMIP report is here.

* Source: Prison Reform Trust