Criminal justice agencies first came into the remit of race legislation in relation to service provision with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. This was one of the most positive results of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Since then, legislation has been developed to cover disability, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation and age.
The Equality Act 2010 brought over 100 different pieces of equality law into one Act. It requires public authorities to promote good relations between different groups and to eliminate discrimination against people with “protected characteristics” – the groups mentioned above plus marital status and pregnancy. It also requires them to consider the impact of their policies and practices to ensure no groups are disadvantaged. In addition, criminal justice agencies are also covered by the Human Rights Act 1998.
There is no doubt much progress was made across all criminal justice agencies since the Stephen Lawrence report. However there has been little recent research on the real and lasting impact of these changes, and to what extent they have really changed policy and practice – or been a box-ticking exercise. When resources are tight, equality is often one of the first things to fall off the agenda.
Ways of working
- Research reports.
- Briefings and policy guidance for the CJS based on solid research/evidence.
- Seminars: for students and staff, and external seminars with visiting speakers.
- Involve students through the Criminology Society.
- Include students in pieces of research.
- Link to the Criminology work experience module through speakers, contracts, placements which provide students with high quality career advice.
- Host a large Equality and Criminal Justice conference in 2012 to raise the profile and launch the unit.
- Advisory Panel: a panel of outside people with expertise and experience, including senior practitioners, to advise on the direction our research could take, potential funding sources, and to give a general fresh perspective.