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12 June 2020

Race and ethnicity: a critical moment

The Prison Reform Trust has co-signed a letter to CEO of HM Prison and Probation Service, Dr Jo Farrar today, calling for practical and visible action to tackle the discrimination that many people from minority communities are experiencing and have experienced for many years.

The letter, sent as part of PRT’s membership of the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) Special Interest Group on Covid-19, includes a briefing prepared by a small group of BAME led organisations at the request of the group. It makes a series of practical suggestions for how the recovery process in prisons and probation can meet its obligations to people from minority communities who are so disproportionately disadvantaged in our current criminal justice system.

The task of eradicating discrimination based on race and ethnicity belongs to all of us. It requires leadership from those who hold power and influence now, not just those from minority communities who have for so long struggled to fill those positions or command that influence. They, and the organisations that know them best, are looking for evidence that they have been heard.

Commenting, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“PRT is proud to be a co-signatory of this important letter from organisations across the voluntary sector in criminal justice. We believe this is a critical moment ‘charged with opportunity and risk’, as the letter says. The opportunity is to rejuvenate work to eliminate discrimination in the criminal justice system, including prisons. But that means deeds, not words. The report from specialist BAME organisations provides a clear and practical agenda for exactly that approach.”