Posts Tagged ‘judicial diversity;’
There has long been a desire to see more female and black and minority ethnic (BAME) people appointed to the judiciary. The present Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas has promoted a number of initiatives designed to build on work already started by the Judicial Appointments Commission.
In April 2017, the Judicial Diversity Committee of the Judges’ Council published its latest report on progress together with – for the first time – an Action Plan for activities to be undertaken in 2017-2018.
The headline objectives of the Committee are set out in the report as follows:
In the next 12 months, we will –
continue our dialogue with BAME lawyers better to understand the barriers they face and identify what more the judiciary can do to support them;
work with the Law Society, Bar Council and CILEx to ensure that we are doing all we can to reach the broadest range of talent;
encourage more networking among the existing courts and tribunals judiciary;
run more workshops to support a greater number of candidates from under-represented groups to prepare for the selection process;
further develop our communications to potential candidates and those who have an interest in judicial diversity; and
improve the monitoring and evaluation of our initiatives.
While these aims may seem little bland, detailed reading of the report reveals that there is intended to be an extensive programme of workshops, mentoring, outreach and other initiative designed to encourage those from groups currently under-represented in the judiciary to think about law and a judicial career.
The report also provides a link to a number of judges talking about their experience in becoming a judge – designed to inspire others to contemplate following their path. See https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/about-the-judiciary/judges-career-paths/videos-judges-talk-about-their-judicial-careers/
In this blog, I noted (Feb 2016) the appointment of the MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, to lead a review of racial bias in the criminal justice system. He has now published his ’emerging findings’ in a letter he has sent to the Prime Minister. His final report is expected in 2017. The Press Release states:
The review commissioned an analysis paper looking at disproportionality in the criminal justice system. One finding was that for every 100 white women handed custodial sentences at Crown Courts for drug offences, 227 black women were sentenced to custody. For black men, this figure is 141 for every 100 white men.
Among all those found guilty at Crown Court in 2014, 112 black men were sentenced to custody for every 100 white men .
The disproportionality analysis also found that, among those found guilty, a greater proportion of black women were sentenced to custody at Crown Court than white women.
Other notable findings highlighted today from the disproportionality analysis and the wider Lammy review include:
Of those convicted at Magistrates’ Court for sexual offences, 208 black men and 193 Asian men received custodial sentences for every 100 white men.
BAME defendants are more likely than their white counterparts to be tried at Crown Court – with young black men around 56% more likely than their white counterparts;
BAME men were more than 16% more likely than white men to be remanded in custody;
BAME men were 52% percent more likely than white men to plead ‘not guilty’ at crown court;
In prisons, BAME males are almost five times more likely to be housed in high security for public order offences than white men, and
Mixed ethnic men and women were more likely than white men and women to have adjudications for breaching prison discipline brought against them – but less likely to have those adjudications proven when reviewed.
51% of the UK-born BAME population agree that ‘the criminal justice system discriminates against particular groups’, compared to 35% of the UK-born white population;
41% of youth prisoners are from minorities backgrounds, compared with 25% ten years ago, despite prisoner numbers falling by some 66% in that time;
The number of Muslim prisoners has almost doubled in the last decade.
The next stage for the review will be to examine the reasons for these figures and to explore whether they reveal bias in the system against those from BAME groups.
It has also been announced that Lammy will – as part of this exercise – take a closer look at diversity in the judiciary and the numbers of judges from BAME groups.
The details of the emerging findings are at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lammy-review-emerging-findings-published
For a number of years, it has been accepted that there should be greater diversity among the judiciary. The gender and ethnicity of the judiciary should broadly reflect the gender and ethnicity of the population as a whole. There has been considerable effort to more the judiciary away from their ‘white, male, upper middle class’ image.
The present Lord Chief Justice is determined that progress towards a more balanced judiciary should be advanced. The latest Judicial Diversity Statistics, published in July 2016, indicate that some progress has been made.
The headline findings are that in April 2016:
- The number of woman Court of Appeal Judges remains the same as last year at eight out of 39 (21 per cent).
- Twenty two out of 106 High Court Judges are women (21 per cent). In April 2015 the number was 21 (20 per cent).
- In the courts the percentage of female judges has increased from April 2015 to April 2016 from 25% to 28%. In tribunals it remained stable at 45%.
- The number of female Circuit Judges increased from 146 in April 2015 to 160 in April 2016 (from 23 per cent to 26 per cent)
- More than half (51 per cent) of the 85 court judges who are under 40 years of age are women (53% last year). In tribunals, 64 per cent of the 56 judges under 40 are women (56% last year)
- The percentage of judges who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)is 5% in courts (6% last year), and in tribunals 9% (stable since 2015). This is higher for judges under 40 – 8% (6% last year) for courts and 14% (15% last year) for tribunals.
- A third (34%, compared with 36% in 2015) of court judges and two thirds (65%, compared with 67% in 2015) of tribunal judges are from non-barrister backgrounds. Judges in lower courts more likely to come from a non-barrister background.
The conclusions that may be drawn from these findings is that some progress has been made in the appointment of women as judges; but the numbers of BAME judges remain low.
In order to encourage applications, particularly from women and BAME candidates, the Judges Council has established a Judicial Diversity Committee, which undertakes different events and initiatives to encourage a wider range of candidates to apply for judicial appointment. They have recently published their first report.
Their work includes:
- sponsoring networking events;
- running a judicial shadowing programme;
- appointing judicial role models from the existing bench to provide advice and guidance to potential applicants.
One pilot initiative relates to developing ways to encouraging applications for appointment to the High Court bench from those who have not had practice experience as a barrister, including leading academics.
To see the Judicial Diversity Statistics, go to https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/judicial-diversity-statistics-2016-2.pdf.
The report of the Judicial Diversity Committee is at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/judicial-diversity-committee-progress-report-13-16.pdf