Race Ethnicity And Criminal Justice History Criminology Essay

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UK has been a multi-culture country historically whereby people from various origins, nations, races, religions, beliefs, etc. migrated to UK in the last two centuries. Largely, these migrants have been from Africa and Asia that form the ethnic minority communities within the UK. In the past 30 years, these ethnic minorities progressed very well in the UK and have been the victims of hate and racial crimes. Multiple researches have been conducted pertaining to the causes of hate and racial crime in the UK (Gabbidon. 2009). This paper is a presentation of relevant literature review on the subject matter.

2.0 Migration, Racial Disadvantage and Ethnic Diversity

Migration of people to UK has been in progress for at least two centuries but organised migration for living and employment has been occurring in past 30 years. The ethnic groups prevalent in UK are: Black Caribbean, Black African, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and other Asians and Blacks. Many of these groups have migrated to UK for education and employment and hence their primary target has been to achieve high quality professional education, get employed within UK or to open a business. Some of the people have entered UK through human trafficking routes and hence the crimes against them are much wider than the ones against ethnic minorities. The groups of Black Caribbean, Indians and Pakistanis are reported to be well employed in the UK due to their professional skills and good written and spoken English language. Their employment rates have been better than other ethnic minorities and even better than the local whites. (Gabbidon. 2009)

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McDonald (2009) argued that the ethnic minorities always remain within their groups with tangibly distinct differences in lifestyles. They can be identified very easily due to skin colour and different pronunciation of English and hence are easily targeted by others that hate them. He argued that the racial and hate crimes are not always conducted by local whites but are also conducted by one group of ethnic minorities against others. In fact some of the ethnic minorities have brought with them different flavours of crime to UK that has added to the already existing crimes of the UK. Migrants from some countries (like Caribbean, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) have largely chosen to adopt the local way of thinking and living and hence do not cause nuisance against others (except for issues like domestic violence that is prevalent even in their native countries and has become one of the major issues in UK). But many other ethnic groups prefer to retain their original lifestyles and possess radical thoughts that make them deviant against the whites and other ethnic groups in the UK. As pointed out by Chakraborti and Garland (2009), a lot depends upon the circumstances under which the members of ethnic minorities migrated to the UK. While people from Asian countries migrated to the UK for higher pay packages (that is, to get richer as they were well off in their respective countries as well) others may have migrated to the UK amidst extreme poverty or impact of slavery and deprivation in their native countries. The history of events associated with the minority people matters a lot in the way they behave in the UK. The sense of being deprived or betrayed invokes negative emotions of hate, jealousy, prejudice and revenge that results in crime against other ethnic minorities in the UK and also the clashes between whites and blacks. This is one of the accepted causes of hate crime although the authors believe that this subject still needs enormous scholarly research to be established further. In fact racist crimes are classified as one of the categories of hate crimes given that racism can be one of the strong reasons leading to hatred but there are many other factors as well. The racist crimes are conducted by the people due to their hate against people of other races influenced by emotions like deprival, betrayal, difference of class, prejudice, etc. (Healy. 2006)

The Home Office, UK has presented a wide definition of hate crime that includes criminal activities as a result of discrimination against disability, religion, belief, race, sexual orientation or transgender. The home office especially mentions that hate crimes are more important and different than other types of crimes because the people are targeted based on identity and the discrimination thus practiced is serious infringement of human rights and social equality. Moreover, they state that hate crimes result in serious psychological disorder and breakdown and can be disastrous for the British society because whole communities can become enemies just by criminal act against one individual. Serious social disasters (like riots) can be the extreme outcomes if the hate crimes are not handled adequately and indiscriminately. (http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/hate-crime/)

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Gabbidon (2009) studied the pattern of punishments in the UK criminal justice system to discover that certain types of crimes are associated with the ethnic minorities such that the probability of getting sentenced for the members of the minority group increases. For example, Blacks are more probable to get custodial sentences for fraud, forgery and drug offenses and Asians are more probable to get custodial sentences for robbery. Similarly whites are more probable to get custodial sentences for community crimes and Muslims are more probable to be targeted for terror crimes. These patterns suggest some kind of mindset established in the judicial system itself that is inclined to believe that a particular ethnic minority group may be associated with a particular crime. These concerns have been raised by the 2006-2007 report by the House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee pertaining to overrepresentation of young blacks pertaining to crimes related to drugs, firearms and mugging. The report especially states that "Young Black people are disproportionately subject to socio-economic disadvantage and social exclusion even by the judiciary and policing system". Quraishi (2005) pointed out that South Asian Muslims are perceived to be more involved in offensive crimes although the British criminology badly lacks researches on South Asians especially the Muslims. In fact the knowledge about the ethnic diversity in the UK is still very less and hence criminal justice system do take into account perceptions rather than facts. Muslims are more likely to be frisked for arms and explosives and blacks are more likely to be frisked for drugs. One can define this as racial disadvantage in the UK.

3.0 Reasons for crime against ethnic minorities

Rutter and Tienda (2005) described social discrimination, deprival and poverty as two major reasons for crime against one group of ethnic minorities by another. It is not a fact that all members of an ethnic minority are poor or rich. The perceptions are driven by majority of the members of an ethnic minority group whether they are poor or deprived or not. For example, as described by these authors, Pakistani and Bangladeshis are also poverty stricken but they do not perceive this as a reason for deviance against the ethnic minorities that are richer. This again goes back to the theory of the circumstances under which they migrated to the UK and the objectives that had in mind to achieve from the migration. Asians come to UK to become rich and hence their entire focus is on earning more and more money. Caribbean blacks may have migrated to the UK through more congenial channels and hence are well placed and growing in the UK. They possess excellent spoken and written English skills and hence enjoy better placements in the British society. African blacks have migrated to UK under varying circumstances whereby significant number of migrations can be traced back to slavery and deprivation in their native countries by the whites. Hence, the reasons for crime against ethnic minorities need to be viewed from historical angle in the UK. They may be the traditional black-white clashes or else hatred and jealousy against Asians due to their comparatively better success. (Chakraborti and Garland. 2009)

There may be other recent reasons - like the significant outsourcing of UK jobs to India but they have not yet been proven academically at least from UK perspective (may be applicable in US however). The author has mentioned this point without an empirical support because this needs further investigation.

4.0 Policing against hate and race driven crimes

Rice and White (2010) and the 2006-2007 report by the House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee pointed out that the policing system has been discriminate against the blacks in the UK. The black youths are doubted, arrested and imprisoned more often than Whites and Asians. The discrimination exists in the form of some kind of mindset against the blacks that may be the result of historical conflicts between whites and blacks in the African countries. Their reports suggested that blacks are often intercepted, ticketed and, in many cases, arrested just against doubts without substantial evidence. Further to this, Chakraborti and Garland (2009) stated that blacks do not get adequate police security and hence have been victims of violence amounting to serious injury or death in the UK. The case of Stephen Lawrence (in 1993) and the Macpherson's report has been especially analysed by these authors to describe how "institutional racism" has resulted in increase of racism crime in the UK. Following figure presents the statistics of race crime in the UK from 1999-2000 to 2006-2007:

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Figure 1: Increase of race crimes in the UK (Source: Chakraborti and Garland. 2009)

The statistics reveal a gradual increase in race crimes year after year. These figures are only the reported crimes because the British Crime Survey (BCS) reports reveal larger numbers (about 139000 in 2006) of racial crimes. The reports also reveal that ethnic minorities are at higher risk of racial crimes than the whites. The Macpherson report in 1999 opened a new dimension of institutional racism in the UK that confronted racial bias among the metropolitan police in London. The report recommended significant improvements in the policing and judicial system to ensure commitment towards a true and unbiased British society that needs to prove to the world that Britain is a true multi-racial democracy where everyone enjoys equal rights to live and survive. The report revealed that the police system itself is biased towards racism and the problem of racial hate in Britain today is much deep rooted in institutions, organisations and, most worryingly, in children and adolescents that are less than 16 years of age. The report justified the compliant by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence that the Metropolitan police was biased in the entire investigation process and all the suspects were acquitted. The fundamental change that the police system needs to undergo is to visualise racism as a threat to modern British society and treat the same as a social challenge that needs to be resolved as effectively as possible (O'Brian. 2000). The 2009 report by House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee claims that significant improvement in policing against racist crimes is evident after the term "institutional racism" by Sir William Macpherson had shaken the police community out of their complacency. The report claims that cultural change is evident in the police departments in the way they interact with ethnic minorities. The concept of family liaison officers has also worked very well. In another report by Crown Prosecution Service (2006), they claimed to have handled the racist murder of Anthony Walker very professionally and proactively that resulted in prosecution of both the criminals responsible for the racist murder. However, as reiterated by the 2009 report by House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee, the black youth is still over-represented by the police given that they are six times more likely to be interrupted and searched. The report also reiterated that the misbehaviour with ethnic minorities under custody need to be controlled. Moreover, the role of family liaison officers need to be improved given that their responsibility is to ensure that the ethnic minority family of the victim is treated well by investigators and the updates regarding the investigations are periodically provided to the family members. The police needs to take an accountability of race equality and percolate the message to the natives of their region by means of appropriate communications media.

5.0 Ethnicity and criminal justice system

The modern criminal justice system makes every government official to be responsible towards ethnic minorities. As per the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, it is an unlawful offense for any government official to exhibit or practice racial discrimination while carrying out his/her duties. The act also requires that government departments need to publish their race equality schemes and justify how the schemes would be able to achieve promotion of race equality and good relationships with the various ethnic minority groups. In addition, the act also mandates close monitoring of the way the staff from ethnic minorities are treated in government organisations. The maximum impact on the public is carried out by the police and hence they are the ones that need to practice the mandates of the act most due diligently. The authorities in the police organisations have obviously not taken the Macpherson report positively and hence stop and search and custodial death cases have increased since the report has been published as claimed by Abbas (2004).

The Macpherson report's "institutional racism" targets Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) as well and hence the latter has been more proactive in the way they deal with racial violence against ethnic minorities. The Anthony Walker case is an ideal example in which the CPS directly approached police themselves and supported them to ensure faster investigations and faster prosecution of the accused. In fact the CPS assigned the senior prosecutor and involved the community leaders of the ethnic minority group much ahead of the police contacting them (CPS. 2006). However, the core problem remains that the probability of members of ethnic minorities getting prosecuted by CPS is higher and hence the perceptions need to be changed considerably by the institution in the coming years. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 implies fair trial of all accused by the CPS irrespective of whether they are members of ethnic minorities or are whites. The change is already visible but there is a long way to go.

The other acts that enforce hatred and racial discrimination as unlawful are:

Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008

Disability Discrimination 1995

Criminal Justice Act 2003 - S.145

Football offenses act 1991 (amended)

Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

(http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/hatecrime/hatecrime004.htm)

6.0 Conclusion

The UK is a multi-racial democratic country where the social system has been formed by the combination of local British population and a number of ethnic minorities that migrated to the country. Maintaining communal harmony in the UK has been a major challenge in the past given that there are numerous reasons for hatred and prejudice emotions prevailing in the nation that are linked with historical events and facts. The British society comprises of Africans, Caribbean, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Chinese and other ethnic minority groups that have migrated to the UK under different circumstances and with different objectives. Hence there are crimes conducted by one ethnic group against another and also crimes conducted due to the historical hate clashes between whites and blacks. All organizations (including the Police departments) are made of human beings and hence racial emotions have been existing even in the government officials, police and judicial system. The event of racial killing of Stephen Lawrence triggered multiple changes in the UK racial system especially after publishing of the report by Sir William Macpherson and the definition of so called "institutional racism". Sir William pointed out that racial feelings prevail even in the people serving Metropolitan Police Organisations and the Crown Prosecution Services. He recommended major changes in the way government officials treat ethnic minorities in the interest of long term survival of the British society. The report as opposed very strongly but improvements over traditional complacent approach of police and CPS are evident as reported by House of Commons. Home Affairs Committee. The CPS also advocated their proactive approach in solving the racial crime against Anthony Walker who was murdered by two white youths in a park. CPS promptly engaged with the police teams and ensured that the accused get the desired punishment that they deserve. These events are definitely improving confidence among the ethnic minorities but there is still a long way to go in the future.