Napo is deeply shocked with the findings of this report. It is very disappointing that 4 years after David Lammy MP published his report into BAME experiences in the criminal justice system that so much is still left to do to realise his recommendations.
General Secretary Ian Lawrence said: “What this report shows is just how damaging Transforming Rehabilitation was and that it has led to the probation service going backwards in terms of how service users are managed. There is a lot of ground that needs to be made up once the service is reunified in June to tackle disproportionality for BAME people in the Criminal Justice System.”
As well as highlighting huge gaps in service provision for BAME service users the report also evidences the failure of other policies. Pre-sentence reports lack the depth and analysis that is required in order to ensure appropriate sentencing and sentence management. Napo has been campaigning for a return of professional judgement that allows probation to determine what type of report is appropriate rather than arbitrary targets set by the Ministry of Justice. The report supports this approach and a change in policy is urgently required.
Whilst this report shows that service users are being disadvantaged, what is perhaps equally shocking is that these experiences are also being mirrored by the experiences of BAME staff.
Ian Lawrence said: “I find it deeply disturbing that our members are being discriminated and disadvantaged in the work place. Our member’s testimonies completely support the findings in the report with many reporting that there is no consideration or discussion when race related cases are allocated. The re-traumatisation of staff in this way must be addressed as a matter of urgency”.
A lack of adequate training is a running theme through the report. Napo will work with the employer to address this but it must also be adequately resourced. The cost cutting exercise that dogged the service for many years has led to training being cut to the bone. It is no longer fit for purpose as it does not equip staff to do their job and the Minister must now intervene and seek the funding required. If staff and management are not trained to understand race related issues, then it will continue to fail both service users and staff. The reunification in June is an opportunity to rebuild the profession and enable it to become a progressive organisation that can lead the way in the criminal justice system.