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By Stephen Shute

This booklet studies on learn which investigates the perceptions of ethnic minorities touching on their therapy within the felony courts. It examines the level to which ethnic minority defendants and witnesses in either the Crown court docket and the magistrates' courts perceived their therapy to were unfair, whether or not they believed any unfairness to were the results of ethnic bias, and even if this had affected their self assurance within the felony courts. The learn, conducted by means of the Oxford Centre for Criminological learn in organization with the collage of Birmingham for the Lord Chancellor's division, concerned observations of circumstances and interviews with greater than one thousand humans (defendants, witnesses, barristers, solicitors, judges, magistrates and others), and interested by courts in Manchester, Birmingham and London. a good listening to? Ethnic minorities within the felony courts starts by means of displaying how largely held the assumption has been that ethnic minorities are discriminated opposed to by way of the courts and by way of different firms within the legal justice approach. It discusses the standards that contributed to this trust, together with the findings of the Macpherson document and the suggestion of 'institutional racism'. the most a part of the publication then seems on the institutional surroundings within which the examine came about, the adventure of defendants and witnesses, their perspectives approximately how they have been handled by way of the felony courts, and the perspectives of others fascinated with the court docket technique. ultimate chapters within the publication tackle the problem of sensitivity to ethnicity at the a part of judges, magistrates and attorneys. It indicates that attitudes and practices are looked as if it would have replaced for the higher and examines what extra has to be performed to extend the boldness that contributors of ethnic minorities have within the equity of the felony courts.

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60 The Crown Court centre chosen in Manchester was at Crown Square; the South London courts were Inner London Crown Court centre and Camberwell Green and Tower Bridge magistrates’ courts. 59 21 A Fair Hearing? It was impossible in a study like this to generate a ‘scientifically drawn’ representative sample of interviewees. This would have meant identifying cases – both ethnic minority and white – in advance and then waiting for all procedures in the case to be completed before conducting an interview.

The extent of perceived racial bias As explained in Chapter 2, a complaint of unfairness by a minority ethnic person could not be taken at face value as a complaint of racial bias. Just like the complaints made by the white defendants, the complaint may 35 A Fair Hearing? 2 Perceptions of unfair treatment in the court: magistrates’ courts (percentages rounded) Magistrates’ courts: defendants interviewed White Black Asian Total What unfair? 2 (1*) 26 ( ) *Percentage of total unfair treatment N:107.

Thus, although we have tried to quantify the proportion of defendants who felt that they had been unfairly treated, it must be recognised that allegations of discriminatory or prejudicial treatment on the grounds of race were expressed with varying strengths and levels of clarity and certainty. Also, some respondents gave answers to one question which were inconsistent with the answers they had given to other questions. We therefore did our best to make sense of what was said within the total context and tone of the interview and the percentages quoted must be read with this in mind.

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