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9th November 2022

New report calls out ‘institutional racism’ in the justice system

A recent report published by the University of Manchester has found that the judicial system is institutionally racist
New report calls out ‘institutional racism’ in the justice system
Photo: @ Huffpost

A new investigation conducted by the University of Manchester has found strong evidence that there is “institutional racism” in the justice system.

Experts from the University of Manchester, alongside barrister Keir Monteith KC, have conducted an investigation into racism in the justice system.

The report, drawn from a survey of 373 legal professionals, found significant evidence for the discrimination of racial minorities by judges, with 95% saying they had witnessed some racial prejudice.

Despite this, under half of respondents in the investigation who have worked as judicial office holders had received race training in the past three years.

The report found that young black male defendants were the most targeted. One statement from a participant said: “I saw Magistrates/DJs [District Judges] routinely disbelieve young black applicants, particularly in cases where their account differed from the police account.”

Professor Eithne Quinn, the report’s academic lead author, stated that “judges often play a role in fuelling and normalising the terrible disparities in our legal system”, and called for wider awareness of this problem.

Whilst the report did find some judges actively attempted to mitigate prejudice, very few of the respondents noted this. Monteith stated “it is impossible to have diversity and inclusion if the system itself unfairly discriminates”.

This is not a new issue, according to Monteith. Speaking on a YouTube video produced by Garden Court Chambers in 2020, Monteith spoke of the “need to turn up the volume in terms of our approach in Court”.

“After the protests and demands, there’s been change, but not close to enough. When you … still have racism in and out of the court room you know you have a massive problem”.

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