Prison reform campaigners have decried the 'disproportionate number' of black, Asian and minority ethnic kids arrested in England and Wales in 2016. They comprise more than a quarter of all children detained.
That figure is more than double the proportion of BAME people in the population as a whole. BAME kids accounted for 60 percent of child arrests by London’s MET Police last year – the highest of the districts studied by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which released its latest report, Monday.
The charity’s figures, which were obtained by freedom of information requests, reveal that the MET police had the highest proportion, followed by Bedfordshire with 42 percent and the West Midlands with 41. The three areas have a BAME population rate of 40, 23 and 30 percent respectively. Non-British Caucasians are not categorized as members of ethnic minority communities in this report.
These results come despite the fact that a previous Howard League report showed that the overall number of kids entering the criminal justice system fell to a record low in 2016. A total of 87,529 adolescents were arrested last year, down from nearly a quarter of a million in 2010. However, 22,579 of these were from a BAME background.
The number of BAME children in custody, according to a recently-released report by the Inspectorate of Prisons, has risen dramatically to 49 percent in 2016, up from just 25 percent 10 years ago. A fact that has campaigners concerned.
“The disproportionate number of BAME children being brought into the system is of great concern. It raises serious questions about decision-making throughout the criminal justice journey – from the police’s decision to arrest, to the remand and sentencing decisions of the youth courts,” said Frances Crook, Chief Executive of Howard League for Penal Reform.
This latest report follows the Lammy Review, which was published in September by Tottenham MP David Lammy. This highlighted the growingly disproportionate nature of BAME people entering the criminal justice system.
“While it is welcome news that the total number of child arrests is going down, it is a cause of real concern that the levels of disproportionality are so severe and are in fact getting worse." – @DavidLammyhttps://t.co/yt1PihTEh6
— The Howard League (@TheHowardLeague) November 27, 2017
“The Lammy Review has called on police forces and other criminal justice agencies to either explain disparities or reform. Our analysis of child arrests data is intended to assist this discussion,” Crook said.
The Howard League argues that keeping children out of the system helps prevent crime and “that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases reoffending rates.”