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Lawyer turned MP David Lammy asks government to set judicial diversity targets, government says no

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‘Disappointed’ politician says ‘more of the same will not work’

David Lammy MP

David Lammy, whose recent review into the justice system included a recommendation to introduce judicial diversity targets, has used his social media account to lament the government’s non-commitment to it.

The Lammy Review concluded there are “deep-seated problems” within the criminal justice system which see black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals face “bias” and “overt discrimination”. He laid down 35 recommendations for the government to consider: “The time for talking is over.”

One of these urged Justice Secretary David Lidington and his team to take a more hands-on approach to improving judicial diversity. Statistics show 7% of judges are BME (10% in the tribunals). There is one ethnic minority judge in the Court of Appeal and none in the Supreme Court.

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Lammy believes his research demonstrates that this lack of diversity has a “significant effect” on what he calls the “trust deficit” between Britain’s BME communities and the justice system. He recommends the government sets “a clear, national target to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy by 2025”. The MP for Tottenham, who is himself a trained barrister, also supports a more “modern” approach to judicial recruitment, including “talent-spotting” and “pre-application support”.

The subject of judicial targets has long been controversial. While human rights group JUSTICE, for example, has said targets “with teeth” are needed to improve diversity, others have been more critical. Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption famously, and controversially, said:

“The lack of diversity is a significant problem, but it isn’t the only one. It takes time. You’ve got to be patient… It has to happen naturally. It will happen naturally.”

Which side is the government on? While Lidington has said the government will consider all 35 of the Labour MP’s recommendations, proposals to set judicial targets have not been accepted.

Lammy has this morning used his Twitter account to describe his disappointment at the government having “not felt able to move forward on targets or goals to achieve a representative judiciary and magistracy”.

Harvard law graduate Lammy continued:

“My review demonstrated the lack of progress over the last decade in improving diversity amongst the judges that sit in our courts, and I am clear that more of the same will not work.”

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24 Comments

Anonymous

Good article. A tough issue to fix.

(4)(3)

Anonymous

Are there numbers available for the amount of BAME applicants for judicial posts? That may be quite telling also.

The bench does need to be more diverse, but I’m not sure targets/quotas are the way forward.

(11)(0)

Anonymous

If it wished to, the UK JAC could publish the number and percentage of BAME applicants for each selection trawl, the number who got through at each stage and the number who were appointed. Provided that the applicants all have the minimum entry requirements, for example 7 years post-qualification experience, that would provide a useful analysis of the BAME success rate.

I applied for a Deputy DJ (NC) trawl in 2011. There was an on-line application procedure which involved a multiple choice IQ-type test, and then a timed online multiple choice test of criminal law and procedure. There were 1600 applicants (for 25 posts) who satisfied the initial selection procedure and 80 candidates passed the online tests. The 80 candidates attended at an assessment centre where they undertook a court role-play exercise (with actors playing a difficult defendant) followed by a 60 minute competency-based interview. I got through to the final stage but didn’t score highly enough in the interview to get into the top 25. I consider that the selection process was fair and merit-based – although there is always a possibility of personal bias by a member of the 3-person interview panel – and I would not wish to replace it with a system where 15% of appointments are automatically reserved for BAME applicants.

(12)(1)

BAME!

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Trumpenkrieg

If I went to Guyana to agitate for more judicial diversity, I wonder how far I would get.

(9)(11)

Anonymous

You would get as far as Guyana.

(32)(3)

Anonymous

Go back to the year 1717 please

(4)(8)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

I think noted “””””ironic””””” Nazi poster Trumpenkrieg would prefer to go to the year 1488.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Cuckold. Sympathiser. is an imposter.

(4)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Benny Morris

Trumpenkrieg: so a Brit with non-British ethnic origins is akin to a person who travels to a foreign country? You analogy speaks volumes about your outlook…

(4)(1)

Trumpenkrieg

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

When will politicians understand that ‘positive’ discrimination is still discrimination?

(32)(2)

Anonymous

Look at that sweat, has man just dropped 6 tings?

(6)(1)

Anonymous

LOL

(0)(1)

Linda from Accounts

I like a nice, big, sweaty head like that.

(1)(1)

Tyson

Linda shut up OMG

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Man’s not hot

(0)(1)

Anonymous

If an MP’s tweet gets retweeted only 10 times, does he still use social media?

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Quite amazing that an obvious simpleton like Lammy went to Harvard Law School. Genuinely flabbergasted at that.

(6)(6)

Trumpenkrieg

Why are Legal Cheek moderators so triggered about frank discussions about race?

I thought we were supposed to have “a conversation about race” in this country?

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(1)(1)

Corbyn. Symphathiser

You are a racist, and you post racist things. It’s really that simple, and really that sad.

(3)(2)

Trumpenkrieg

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Last week’s prison population and capacity briefing listed the total prison population as 85,577 or 0.13% of the population based on the latest census data. David Lammy states that 14% of the general population and 25% of the prison population are BAME. Normalising against the latest census data, last week, 0.23% of the BAME population were serving a prison sentence. To determine where the bias lies, an analysis of all the underlying data is required.

(0)(0)

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