Ethnic Minorities Criminal Justice

Racial Disparity in England and Wales Criminal Justice System

The white ethnic group forms the majority of the residents in England and Wales accounting for (86% - 48.2 million); with 80% of this population being made up of individuals drawn from the White British group. Racism and ethnicity are observed to feature at almost every stage of United Kingdom`s criminal justice system. There is a high likelihood of victimisation of individuals from certain ethnic groups which are the minority. There is a higher likelihood of these individuals being stopped and subsequently searched by the police, while there likelihood of being arrested is also higher (Bowcott and Dodd, 2017). Prisons have rather large numbers of black people in their prisons and that is culminates the effect of black people`s disproportionate treatment in the system of criminal justice. There are varying patterns of crime between the white majorities and the minority ethnic groups but not in ways that are adequate to explain the trends seen in the prisons.

The reasons advanced for the criminal justice`s overrepresentation of ethnic minorities from time to time are that; the ethnic minorities commit institutionalized racism and more crime. According to the second argument, more crime is committed by individuals drawn from ethnic minorities and there is also a higher likelihood that such people would end up in the system for criminal justice. That position is suggestive that higher crime rates are seen as a result of cultural deficits within certain ethnic minority communities.


According to Cuthbertson (2017), it would be necessary to gain a good understanding of these ‘criminogenic cultures' to stop them. This argument is however ignorant of the fact that the institutional racism would have led to the disproportionate number of ethnic minorities at different stages. Racial prejudice is reinforced by the criminal justice`s various practices, procedures, operations and policies. One of the best examples of institutional racism is the use of stop and search and over policing. In this, there is a higher likelihood that Black and Asian men would be stopped and searched in comparison to their fellow white men (Lammy, 2013).

There is an over presentation of ethnic minorities in the criminal justice systems different stages in comparison to their representation in the populations aged over ten years which is England and Wales` age of criminal responsibility (Parmar, 2014).

Global Railway versus Air

Figure 1: Representation relative rates at the criminal justice systems different stages in comparison with each ethnic group’s representation in the population (2015).

In Figure 1 above, 100%, which is the axis is a representation of the level at which the level of representation was proportionate to the size of the population, anything above that is indicative of higher risks, while below is symbolic of lower risk. The figure shows that there is some greater risk that is substantial for individuals from the Black group, while also individuals from the Mixed and Asian groups are also at a higher risk.

Global Railway versus Air

Figure 2: Proportion of individuals found guilty of indictable offenses and who are subsequently sentenced custody adapted from Lamar (2013).

In all cases, individuals drawn from ethnic minority groups are observed to receive treatments that are harsher than other white offenders. That is except for duration to Chinese, who have similar durations with the whites (Páll Sveinsson, 2012). It is worth noting that statistics obtained from the government never take into account what led to the sentencing of the offender. Additionally, they also fail to consider the harm and culpability brought about by the defender. Those are factors that would affect the seriousness of any offence. They also fail to take into account previous convictions which tend to be cumulatively treated as aggravating factors; or the offence`s plea. Any offence`s severity would be increased by such and that would have an effect on whether custodial sentences would be ultimately issued to offenders and the custodial sentence`s length.

According to Wallace (2015), there is always a high likelihood that offenders drawn from the ethnic minority would plead not guilty when compared to offenders who are White. Even though it has been continuously proven that there is no relation between the ethnic group one comes from and either the reduced or increased likelihood of parenting, at the different points, individuals from certain minority groups are seen to experience outcomes that are harsher. Even though the black people make up for up to 3% of the population of England and Wales, they make up 15% of those stopped and searched by the police (GOV.UK, 2017). An over representation is also seen in the other ethnic minority groups. England and Wales witness more arrests per 1,000 populations for each of the Minority and Black Ethnic groups, except for Chinese; in comparison with people whose ethnicity is White. For example, for every 1000 population of Black people, there are 84 arrests, while for every 1000 Asian community, there are 29 arrests, while for the mixed ethnic background population, for every 1000 population, 59 arrests. It is observed that for every 1000 population, Black people are arrested up to three times more than Whites (Lammy, 2013).

Global Railway versus Air

Figure 3: The average custodial length of those sentenced for offenses that are indictable adapted from Wallace (2015)

The percentage of individuals in the Black and Minority Ethnic groups sentenced to immediate custody for offenses that are indictable is also higher in comparison to the white population. The most top custodial sentence lengths for individuals given sentences for criminal offenses have been given to people from the Black ethnic minority group at up to 23 months (Cuthbertson, 2017). The whites have been seen to get the lowest average custodial sentences.

Among the ethnic minorities, there are also widespread fears of harassment from police and also concerns that any complaints launched against the police would never be taken seriously. Results of the British Crime Survey of 2009/10 indicated that a high number of children from the Black minority ethnic group avoided traveling in buses and also using mobile phones in buses in fear of their safety in comparison with White children (Bowcott and Dodd, 2017).

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  • Bowcott, O. and Dodd, V. (2017). Exposed: ‘racial bias’ in England and Wales criminal justice system. [Online] The Guardian. Available at:
  • Cuthbertson, P. (2017). Is there a racial disparity in the criminal justice system? A review of the Lammy Review. [eBook] CIViTAS. Available at:
  • GOV.UK. (2017). Prosecutions and convictions. [Online] Available at:
  • Lammy, D. (2013). The Lammy Review An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System. [eBook] Available at:
  • Páll Sveinsson, K. (2012). Criminal Justice v. Racial Justice Minority ethnic overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. [eBook] RUNNYMEDE. Available at:
  • Parmar, A. (2014). Ethnicities, Racism, and Crime in England and Wales. The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration.
  • Wallace, S. (2015). You are here: Home / All posts / Inequality in the criminal justice system Inequality in the criminal justice system. [Blog] Manchester Policy Blogs. Available at:

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