In 1999, the Macpherson Report labelled the Metropolitan Police ‘institutionally racist’. But how far has our criminal justice system come since these findings?

Today, MP for Tottenham David Lammy released his independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system. The review found that criminal justice in England and Wales continues to work against people from these backgrounds. Lammy raises concerns and makes recommendations for how we must move forward to ensure our justice system is trusted, and built on a foundation of equality and diversity.

The exposure of bias in a core institution within our society will come as no surprise to RECLAIM’s young people, who believe that if a system does not look like or represent you (from race to class) then you will be treated differently or forgotten.

RECLAIM supports young people from working class communities, many of whom are from BAME backgrounds. Together, we challenge class inequality, and the solutions at our core are equally fundamental in challenging the racial bias that Lammy’s review has evidenced:

Leadership Equality: Our leadership programmes support young people to ensure that postcode does not dictate potential, and that class will not determine their futures. When institutions are not structurally inclusive of all classes or races, as we see from the police to politics, society will not work for all. It is essential that opportunities and pathways into all sectors are equal. For trust to be restored in our criminal justice system, society must reach a point where those leading it authentically represent those they lead.

Shifting Perceptions: RECLAIM’s young people challenge stereotypes of working class communities made by people and platforms that encourage discriminatory views of them in society. Similarly, work must be done to challenge narratives created about BAME communities that fuel prejudiced policing, and our leaders should be held accountable to ensure that rhetoric does not lead treatment. If, for instance, black young people are only associated with media stories about gangs, then this will feed societal biases.

Critical Thinking: RECLAIM encourages young people to think critically about the world around them. Society must do the same, taking a step further than simply labelling a community without deeper understanding. Fault does not just lie with our criminal justice system. However, when BAME young people commit crime, and BAME young people are more likely to face disadvantage, society must consider the underlying issues. Areas stripped of opportunity leave our young people feeling hopeless. We must address the root of the problems facing young people today that cause them to enter the criminal justice system in the first place.