The National Black Crown Prosecutors Association (NBCPA) welcomes the decision by the CPS to undertake independent research to interrogate the outcomes of our charging decisions for evidence of disparity. It is significant and timely that this report is being published during Race Equality Week. The organisation has taken the first steps towards identifying the issues but now needs to take accountability and immediate action in response.
The research shows that there is evidence of disproportionality in the outcomes of our legal decision making. This means that ethnic minority defendants are more likely to be charged for a comparable crime than White British defendants. These differences are statistically significant but there is more work to do to better understand what is causing the disparities.
Unfortunately, these findings are unsurprising and appear to be consistent with wider issues of disproportionality within the Criminal Justice System. It is vital that the organisation carries out its functions in an independent and fair manner and prosecutes without bias.
We know that colleagues will find these interim findings concerning. The NBCPA has actively engaged with the organisation and as Chair, I have met with the Director of Public Prosecutions in advance of the publication of this report. We have outlined our concerns about the initial findings and response and have agreed to continue to engage with the organisation with this important work. Whilst we recognise the value of the further programme of research, overseen by an independent advisory group, we feel it is vital to explore what tangible actions the organisation can take in the meantime.
Fairness to all is important and it is crucial that the organisation does the right thing to maintain the confidence of the public.
We will be meeting with our membership in due course where we will start the conversation and collectively formulate our own action plan and recommendations.
National Black Crown Prosecution Association (NBCPA)