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UK: Number of BAME magistrates falls

The push to recruit more ethnic minority Britons into senior positions in the criminal justice system has failed in some areas, government figures reveal.

As of 1 April 2019, 92.6 per cent of court judges were white and 7.4 per cent were from black, Asian, mixed and other ethnic groups.

Of the UK's tribunal judges, 88.9 per cent were white, and 11.1 per cent were from BAME backgrounds.

In summary, white people made up the highest percentage of the UK's magistrates and judges, including court judges, tribunal judges and non-legal tribunal members.

Image credit: Legal Cheek

The second-highest percentage of court judges and tribunal judges after the white ethnic group was Asian judges, with black judges ranking among the lowest figures.

Officials have been accused of making "glacial progress" on increasing diversity among judges and magistrates despite hiring extra staff to help with the efforts.

The 2017 Lammy Review into inequality in the justice system spurred the government to make it easier for non-white Britons to reach more senior ranks of the judiciary, but recent figures indicate efforts so far are not working.

The review recommended ministers should "set a clear, national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025", but recent data from the Ministry of Justice highlight that on some key metrics, ethnic minority representation has declined, particularly for black British people.

In 2015 there were 1,828 magistrates in England from a BAME background, including 591 black magistrates; last year there were just 1,653 of which 536 were black.

Five years ago there were 33 black tribunal judges, but last year that figure fell to 31.

Commenting on the diversity issue, Justice minister Chris Philip said: "We have implemented improvements to our recruitment processes to reduce time and cost to hire, increase the diversity of new recruits and ensure we attract the right people with the right skills".

In a time where BLM campaigning has sparked a global consciousness on race, racism and racial inequality, it is no good saying Black Lives Matter if zero progress is being made. The fact that fewer black judges and magistrates exist now than in 2015, with barely any progress made in other roles, highlights that not enough is being done to make a difference.


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