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Campaign encourages more BAME parole board members

POSITIVE OUTCOME: Tottenham MP David Lammy highlighted a lack of diversity in the criminal justice system

A RECRUITMENT campaign in the North of England has resulted in a record number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates appointed Parole Board members.

Following an extensive outreach campaign, 53 independent members will join the Board, 48 per cent from a BAME background.

In separate campaigns, three retired judges and 20 psychologists – 17 percent of whom came from a BAME background – were also appointed from across England and Wales for their specialist skills.

The Board has been calling for a more diverse membership that better reflects the community it serves and brings a mix of perspectives and experience to decision-making. It was an issue highlighted in a review undertaken by Tottenham MP David Lammy.

He said that a lack of diversity can impact on the confidence and trust in the criminal justice system. Prior to this campaign, fewer than five per cent of the Board’s members were identified as being from a BAME background.

These appointments triple the number and will bring the Board’s BAME diversity to
nearly 13 per cent. Commenting on the success of this campaign, Caroline Corby, Chair of the Parole Board, pictured bottom, said: “I am delighted we have taken significant steps to improve the diversity of our membership. It is vital we represent the community we serve to continue to increase public confidence in our decision- making.

“This campaign was only the first step and we hope to continue to build on our success when we next recruit, anticipated to be in the Midlands in 2020.”

IMPARTIAL

After being appointed to her role last year, Corby said it is a “significant concern” that so few of its 240 members were from a black and minority ethnic background. She said “unconscious bias” had affected recruitment for the board, which decides when serious offenders in England and Wales can leave jail.

Corby replaced Nick Hardwick, who was forced to quit after the High Court over-turned the board’s decision to free serial sex offender John Worboys. The role of Parole Board members is to keep the public safe by making impartial, risk-based decisions about the
release of prisoners, who have served the punishment part of their sentence.

Members will only release someone when they assess it is safe to do so and when they are satis ed that effective risk management arrangements are in place. Members come from a variety of backgrounds and are independent public appointees that are selected through a rigorous recruitment process. Once appointed, they will receive extensive training and mentoring to ensure they are properly equipped to make these challenging decisions.

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