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New public scrutiny board to monitor work to achieve racial equity in the criminal justice system

An image of seven individuals stood together in a line, smiling to camera

A new independent public scrutiny board has been formed to monitor and support progress made in work to achieve race equality by criminal justice system agencies in Avon and Somerset.

The board, named the Tackling Racial Disproportionality Independent Scrutiny Board (ISB), is made up of nine influential individuals from across the Avon and Somerset area, who will bring their professional expertise and personal lived experiences to help make sure lasting change and equity are achieved in the criminal justice system.

Desmond Brown – race equality campaigner and independent chair of The Identifying Disproportionality in the Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice System Report will chair the new board.

He said, “I am very excited that we have reached this point with a truly amazing board. The expertise they bring to this space I believe will be transformational. We want to collaborate with criminal justice statutory partners, but also realise that this work will be uncomfortable and challenging for everyone.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford chairs the Local Criminal Justice Board and has brought together senior leaders from all the criminal justice agencies involved to act.

He said, “It’s vital all the organisations involved in delivering the criminal justice system work together to remove discrimination in that very system.

“The Identifying Disproportionality Report shone a light clearly on the disproportionality that exists for Black, Asian, and minoritised people. It asked the agencies to make change and reform, or to explain why the disproportionality is happening.

“I’m grateful to the eight individuals who have joined the original author of the report Desmond Brown – to create the newly appointed Scrutiny Board. The Board provide the final puzzle piece to us achieving the changes required together. All partners welcome their input.”

PCC Mark Shelford set up The Tackling Racial Disproportionality Steering Committee (SteerCo) in March last year. The Steering Committee is chaired by the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Sarah Crew and Deputy Mayor for Bristol and member of the Police and Crime Panel Cllr Asher Craig. The committee is leading the cultural and leadership changes needed to create racial equity in the criminal justice system. 

Co-Chair of the Steering Committee and Deputy Mayor for Bristol Cllr Asher Craig said,

“The review found that the levels of disproportionately across the youth and criminal justice system from arrest through to custody are increasing. The data we have accumulated, and the recommendations set out in the report speak for themselves.

“I am committed to delivering equity across a system that is failing black and minoritised children at every turn. The school to prison pipeline is a feared reality for too many of our black and minoritised families who just want to be treated fairly and equitably. I hope that our work over the next few years will see the trajectory shift significantly in the opposite direction. The proof will be in the data.”

Co-Chair, Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police Sarah Crew said,

“This work is about change throughout the whole criminal justice system – the importance of this programme is that we are working together, across agencies, to make things happen.”

“Our vision as a police service is to deliver outstanding policing for everyone. I’m aware that the current experience is not the same for everyone. I’m passionate about driving the leadership and culture change required to ensure that the criminal justice system is more equitable, and people can feel and see the difference through their experiences in the future.”

The Identifying Disproportionality Report

In 2022, the Identifying Disproportionality in the Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice System Report  was published. It set out 83 recommendations for all agencies involved in delivering criminal justice across Avon and Somerset.

You can read more about the Tackling Disproportionality programme, and the reasons the individuals on the new board chose to join here on our website.