On the 24th-25th October 2017, Forward Thinking facilitated meetings between Baljit Ubhey, the Director of Prosecution Policy and Inclusion, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Graham Ritchie, Head of Policy and Inclusion, and a diversity of community and Islamic faith organisations across West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, in Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Cheadle and Whalley Range.
The aim of the visit was for participating community representatives, with constituency, to inform the CPS’s community engagement strategy, provide an assessment of its activities, explore the immediate implications of CPS policy and the responses of communities on the ground.
The visit provided an analysis of the ongoing challenges faced by Muslim communities who are disproportionately represented in the British criminal justice system, courts and prisons, in addition to the opportunities that exist to overcome these challenges.
The recent Lammy Review highlighted that those from a BAME background are disproportionally charged, tried and punished within the criminal justice system. It highlights that number of Muslim prisoners has increased from around 8,900 to 13,200 over the last decade, Muslims now make up 15% of the prison population, but just 5% of the general population. This worrying disparity runs the risk of exacerbating social divisions and deepening disillusionment and disenfranchisement in British institutions if left unchecked.
Reinvigorating existing – and/or forging new – relationships between the CPS and communities at both the local and national level was recognised as an essential first step in strengthening public confidence – of all communities – in the rule of law, the British criminal justice system, and the CPS’s role within it.