Judiciary in England and Wales revealed to be ‘institutionally racist’ in a damning report
Image by University of Cambridge
The judiciary in England and Wales has been deemed as ‘institutionally racist’ according to more than half of legal professionals who took part in a survey.
According to The Guardian, the report which was published on Tuesday, 18 October, by the University of Manchester in collaboration with barrister Keir Monteith KC, mentioned that they have witnessed at least one judge behave in a racially biased manner.
About 95 percent of the participant alluded to the fact that racism played a role to some level in determining the processes and outcomes of the justice system, with about 56 percent of 373 legal professionals claiming that they have witnessed a judge behaving in a racially biased way towards a defendant.
The report has urged the lord chief justice to come forward and take accountability for this reality that plays a significant part in the judicial system. Other recommendations were also made, including compulsory, ongoing racial bias and anti-racist training for all judges and a complete renewal of judicial appointments.
The study called out the ongoing five-year diversity strategy as it did not mention the existence of racial bias or racism in the judicial system.
Professor Leslie Thomas KC, who wrote the report’s foreword, told The Guardian, “Judges need to sit up and listen, because it is a myth that Lady Justice is blind to colour. Our judiciary as an institution is just as racist as our police forces, our education system and our health service – this is something that cannot be ignored for any longer.”
According to Professor Eithne Quinn, the report’s academic lead author, “judges often play a role in fuelling and normalising the terrible disparities in our legal system.”
A shocking revelation also came in the form of only 1 percent of the judiciary in the country being black and none of them sit in the court of appeal. Additionally, a person of colour has never been appointed as the supreme court justice.
Monteith KC said, “Racism in the justice system has to be acknowledged and fought by those at the highest level, but at the moment there is complete and utter silence – and as a consequence, there is no action to combat racial bias. It is impossible to have diversity and inclusion if the system itself unfairly discriminates.”
Lord Burnett of Maldon, the lord chief justice, told The Guardian that he had been “working hard to deal with problems of the sort that have been identified, where they exist”. He added, “The judiciary will look carefully at this report and take it into account when considering how to focus our efforts in the future. Any incidents of racism, harassment, bullying or discrimination are unacceptable and will be dealt with in accordance with the relevant grievance or conduct procedure.”