The justice system is disproportionately handing out harsher sentences to black children convicted of homicide compared with their white peers. The news comes after an investigation by The Independent.
Analysis of figures for 2009-17 shows one in four black teenage boys guilty of manslaughter were given maximum jail terms. Meanwhile white children found guilty of the same crime were sentenced to no more than 10 years. What’s more, the majority of white children got less than four.
The findings have prompted anger from MPs and campaigners. They argue “cumulative” racial discrimination within policing and the judiciary means black young offenders are subjected to harsher punishments and therefore have worse life chances.
The new analysis shows that black teenagers guilty of homicide were more likely than their white counterparts to be convicted of murder. There were 73 homicides between 2009 and 2017
The majority (52 per cent) of white teenagers in this cohort – of which there were 102 – were convicted of manslaughter, which usually led to a shorter jail term, while this applied to just 30 per cent of black children.
There were further discrepancies among the children convicted of manslaughter. 23 per cent of those who were black sentenced to more than 10 years or life. Meanwhile, no white teenager was sentenced to more than a decade.
Five per cent of black children got less than four years, compared with more than half (51 per cent) of their white peers.
Labour MP David Lammy reportedly said: “We cannot have one rule for one group of people and a different rule for another group of people,” he said.
“It’s vital that all parts of the criminal justice system work hard to address these discrepancies, so that the same crime leads to the same sentence, regardless of ethnicity.”
Zubaida Haque, deputy director at the Runnymede Trust, said the reason for these discrepancies were complex. However, black teenagers were facing “cumulative” discrimination within policing and the judiciary, with “harrowing” consequences.
“Black teenagers are facing discrimination the moment they have contact with the police, and it continues when they’re in front of judges and juries.”, she said.