Crown Prosecution Service reports disproportionate charging of minority groups

June Angus, West London Socialist Party

Black and minority ethnic suspects are more likely to be charged in England and Wales, according to a University of Leeds study commissioned by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Analysis of nearly 200,000 cases revealed that Black and Asian people, and those from mixed backgrounds, were all more likely to be charged than defendants classed as ‘White British’.

These findings are unlikely to surprise most Black and Asian people, who continue to experience unfair treatment across many public services. The report comes in the wake of continuing controversies surrounding the treatment of Black suspects by the police.

In 2022, the death of Chris Kaba at the hands of police officers in Streatham brought thousands to the streets in demonstrations against police brutality. Disproportionate charging decisions are only one part of the wider problem of institutional racism.

In response to the findings, the CPS has created its Disproportionality Advisory Group (DAG), consisting of academics and other specialists, to identify the causes of what it calls the “unexplained disproportionality” in charging decisions.

But can the CPS, with no democratic checks over its actions except the ‘oversight’ of its work by a Tory Attorney General, be trusted to tackle racist decision making? Institutional racism is inherent to capitalism – a system that benefits from dividing and exploiting the working class.

Regardless of what the DAG finds, a justice system run in the interests of the few, ultimately serving capitalist interests, cannot be trusted to protect and serve ordinary people.

The judicial system should be democratically run and controlled by working-class people, with elected judges and access to free legal representation for all.

But ultimately, to tackle the reactionary racist ideas that run through institutions like the CPS means fighting to unite the working-class in a struggle to end capitalism and for socialism.