Black offenders more likely to be jailed ​new data shows

Black people are more likely to be charged and sent to prison than white people - and to receive longer custodial sentences, according to official Ministry of Justice statistics.


Data posted on the ministry’s website under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which requires the government to publish data to assess any variation in how the criminal justice system treats individuals based on their ethnicity, reveals wide disparities between members of different ethnic groups. 

In 2011/12, a person belonging to a black ethnic group was six times more likely than a white person to be stopped and searched.

Meanwhile, black people were less likely to receive an out of court disposal for an indictable offence and more likely to be proceeded against at magistrates’ courts than all other ethnic groups.

The most common sentence outcome for white and mixed ethnic group offenders was a community sentence, while the most common outcome for black, Asian and Chinese or other offenders was immediate custody.

The average custodial sentence length for indictable offences was higher in all the years between 2009 and 2012 for offenders from a black and minority ethnic group compared with those from a white group.

Following conviction, 26% of white people were jailed, compared with 31% of black people and 32% of Asians. On average white offenders received 19.9 months in custody and black defendants 23.4 months.

By Catherine Baksi