Prime Minister David Cameron in an exclusive article in The Sunday Times said “race discrimination should shame our country and jolt us to action.” The prime minister accused the universities, armed forces, police and the business sector for letting the Modern Britain down
“I don’t care whether it’s overt, unconscious or institutional – we’ve got to stamp it out,” he wrote in an exclusive article for The Sunday Times.
Cameron rejected what he called “politically correct, contrived and unfair solutions” like quotas, but said forcing English universities to disclose what proportion of BAME applicants achieved places should prompt them to broaden their intake.
Mr Cameron said it was “striking” that Oxford University’s 2014 intake of more than 2,500 people included only 27 black students.
“I know the reasons are complex, including poor schooling, but I worry that the university I was so proud to attend is not doing enough to attract talent from across our country,” he added. Cameron was educated at Eton and Oxford.
The prime minister also noted that there are no black generals in the UK armed forces, and “just 4% of chief executives in the FTSE 100 are from ethnic minorities”.
“What does this say about modern Britain? Are these just the symptoms of class divisions or a lack of equal opportunity? Or is it something worse – something more ingrained, institutional and insidious?”
He said under-representation in the police and armed forces was a “stubborn problem”, and organisations should go the “extra mile” to show they are open to all.
In another development, Cameron appointed Labour MP and former barrister David Lammy to review the “over-representation” of BAME defendants in the justice system.
Downing Street said 61% of BAME defendants found guilty in crown courts were given custodial sentences, compared with 56% of white offenders.
Records show that, in each year from 2008 to 2012, black offenders were more likely to have been jailed than white offenders by courts in England and Wales.
“It’s disgraceful that if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white,” said Cameron. “We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination.”
Reporting back in Spring 2017, David Lammy has been asked for recommendations to ultimately reduce the proportion of BAME individuals in the Criminal Justice System and make sure that all suspects and offenders are treated equally, whatever their ethnicity.
David Lammy MP said: I’ve been working in this area for almost two decades and am very pleased to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation to lead this comprehensive, independent review across our criminal justice system.
“With over a quarter of the prison population coming from a BAME background the urgency here is clear.
“I look forward to leading a team that will evaluate what works in the UK, draw on lessons from abroad and listen to a broad range of voices from the justice system and our BAME communities.
At present, BAME individuals currently make up over a quarter of prisoners – compared to 14 per cent of the wider population of England and Wales. Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%), and those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).
The review will address issues arising from the point of arrest onwards, including through the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, in order to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond.
Commenting on the review the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Michael Gove MP, said: An effective justice system depends on procedural fairness. Equality of treatment at every stage in the criminal justice process is essential. I am very pleased that David, a politician whose intellectual honesty I have long admired, and who is not afraid to confront uncomfortable truths, is pursuing this important work.