Socialist Worker

Stats reveal institutional racism in punishment of young people

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2740

The number of black, Asian and minoroty ethnic people receiving sentences his risen

The number of black, Asian and minoroty ethnic people receiving sentences his risen (Pic: Bill Nicholls/creative commons)


Government figures have revealed that a record-high number of children in youth custody are black.

And self-harm and the use of restraint on children in custody are also increasing.

In the government’s annual youth justice statistics, published last week, it was revealed that more than half of young people in custody are black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME).

The number of BAME minors who received a caution or sentence also rose. Some 10 percent more Asian children received a caution or sentence in 2019-20 than the previous year.

The numbers of black children cautioned or sentenced have increased for the last ten years.

It is now double what it was in 2010—rising from 6 percent to 12 percent. Tories equalities minister Liz Truss stated last month that claims of structural racism were “evidence-free”. But the Tories’ own figures prove otherwise.

The figures show the number of restrictive physical interventions increased by 19 percent in the last year. The number of self-harm incidents increased by 35 percent.

These are the highest numbers for the last five years.

And the number of injuries suffered by children because of self-harm has also risen.

Injuries requiring medical treatment hit 627 in 2019-20. And 69 required hospital treatment—up from 39 in 2018-19.

Average custodial sentence lengths have increased by more than seven months, from 11.3 to 18.6 months.


Deprivation causes health gap of twenty years for black people

Black people in England suffer health inequalities that equate to being 20 years older than their actual age.

This is what England’s largest ever study of health inequalities has concluded.

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are often poorer and more likely to suffer from underlying health conditions, the study has found.

They are also more likely to experience bad treatment at a GP surgery and inadequate support from local services for housing and social care.

Institutional racism is at the heart of this inequality.

The pandemic has had a greater impact for black people—from being up to four times more likely to die from Covid-19 to being hardest hit by job cuts.

Almost all BAME groups surveyed suffer worse health-related quality of life than white British people.

The average health of 60 year olds that are Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Arab, or Traveller would be expected in a white British 80-year-old.

Mashkura Begum, a charity worker in the West Midlands, said systemic inequality is at play.

She said, “Very few ethnic minorities are involved in the design, discussion or delivery of the service they are service users of.

“Language barrier is used as a common factor, however in reality there is a cultural inertia by the health leaders to make the necessary changes.”

And Dr Arif Dasu, a GP in Preston, agreed that funding, engagement and insight from the government is partly to blame.

“Previous and older generations suffered with having to overcome racial, communal, social and language barriers,” he said.

“I have seen and heard some patients report feeling that they are less likely to be taken seriously than a Caucasian or white British person. This has led to a lack of trust in the services and government.”

The new survey analysed responses from 1.4 million aged over 55 people registered at GP practices across England from 2014 to 2017.

And it included more than 150,000 people from non-white British groups—the largest sample ever recorded.

Researchers found that social deprivation was more common among these groups but couldn’t explain the cause of the findings.

The explanation is simple—a system set up against black and working class people.


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