On 27th November 2020, Forward Thinking joined the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for an online meeting as part of their Community Accountability Forum (CAF). The forum is designed as a platform to provide independent oversight of the CPS’ delivery on their inclusion and community engagement strategy and their statutory equality and diversity objectives. The November 27th meeting focused on ‘The Impact of Race on the Criminal Justice System’.

Speakers included Dr Neena Samota, Programme Director for Criminology and Sociology at St Mary’s University, Ben Lindsay, founder and CEO of Power The Fight and Dr Shubulade Smith, psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

The discussion covered elements of individual, institutional and internalised racism in the criminal justice system. Issues raised included racial disproportionality in policing, such as the use of stop and search; a perceived absence of cultural awareness within parts of the criminal justice system; and the mental health impacts of racism.

Speakers also underlined the need for mental health support for black young people, as well as for community accountability mechanisms to be representative and to include critical voices.

Recommendations were also provided on potential ways for the CPS to address some of the concerns highlighted. The CPS committed to reflect on the insights from the meeting and to use it to inform their strategic and policy decisions moving forward.