Government race and justice review: Gypsies, Roma and Travellers “overlooked too often”

8 September 2017

David Lammy’s independent Review into the overrepresentation and treatment of ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system has found that “Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are overlooked too often” which makes it difficult to understand the full extent of the inequalities they face. The Review has called for this to be changed “as soon as possible”.

David Lammy (main picture) is the Labour MP for Tottenham and is a well-known campaigner on racial and social justice.

In January 2016 the then Prime Minister invited David Lammy MP to find out why official figures show that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups appear to be overrepresented at most stages of the criminal justice system, and what can be done about it.

While the Review cannot reveal the full extent of the inequalities facing them the inclusion of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers gives campaigners’ great hope that the disadvantages and inequalities these communities face in the criminal justice system can begin to be revealed and addressed.

Speaking to the Travellers’ Times about the Review, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers Kate Green MP said “there are blind spots in our criminal justice system, as highlighted by the Review, which allows for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers to suffer worse outcomes and remain disproportionately overrepresented”.

Progress has already been made on this front, as reported by the Travellers’ Times previously, thanks to the campaign spearheaded by Kate Green with support from the Traveller Movement and the Irish Chaplaincy when the Government agreed to introduce ethnic monitoring in the youth criminal justice system to help Gypsy and Traveller children. This should result in fewer blind spots and ensure institutions can be held to account if they fail to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children and young people.

Kate went on to explain her hopes for the legacy of the Review in relation to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers “I hope the lasting legacy of this Review is that communities such as Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are no longer overlooked.That institutions finally realise they too are an ethnic group and the criminal justice system – and indeed all public services – therefore have a duty to treat them fairly. And if they do not, well then they must be held to account”.

Kate finished by calling for tailored support for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people “It is most welcome to see the Review point to the recommendation by the Traveller Movement that if we are going to ensure Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are able to live positive fulfilled lives upon release then they will need tailored support both in prisons and on release. Without such support, these communities will continue to be failed and will remain disproportionately overrepresented in the criminal justice system.”

Commenting on the Review, Yvonne MacNamara the Chief Executive of the Traveller Movement said “the blind spots in the criminal justice system, and indeed most public services in this country, has allowed institutions and services to get away with unequal treatment of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers for too long. That is why we have campaigned so ferociously on ethnic monitoring, and while we are pleased that the Ministry of Justice, the Police and Youth Justice Board have all committed to correct this inequality, we echo David’s call for the roll out to be completed as soon as possible”.

Yvonne added “we are particularly pleased that the Review highlighted our concern that services can be insensitive to the needs of GRT people and that these communities need tailored support both in prisons and on release. We hope the relevant authorities will consider this seriously, and we intend to follow up to make sure they do”.

See the review report here: