New figures reveal Black people 16 times more likely to be prosecuted under ‘racist’ joint enterprise laws

Posted on 29 Sep 2023

Liberty has responded to new stats showing that Black people are being disproportionately targeted by joint enterprise prosecutions.

Figures published by the CPS today revealed Black people are 16 times more likely to be prosecuted under joint enterprise than white people.

The findings come as part of a pilot scheme to monitor data on the age, race, sex and disability of those prosecuted under the joint enterprise doctrine after a legal challenge from campaign group JENGbA, represented by Liberty.

Gloria Morrison and Jan Cunliffe, co-founders of JENGbA, said:

“When JENGbA decided to take legal action against the CPS, because they could not explain why joint enterprise disproportionately targets young Black men, we didn’t actually realise that this was illegal due to the Equalities Act 2010.

“Having been invited onto a scrutiny panel looking at the data for six months of recording ethnicity, gender, age, disability and whether gang nominal was used in charging decisions, we feel absolutely vindicated in taking this legal action and want to thank Liberty in helping us do this.

“The data has proven that joint enterprise charging is not simply disproportionate against Black and working class defendants, it is a useful tool to gather up as many convictions as possible using what is clearly a racist doctrine that has no place in the British justice system.”

Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at Liberty, said:

“We knew that young Black men were more likely to be targeted by joint enterprise prosecutions, but these figures show that the racial bias in the system is even more stark than we thought.

“Black people are 16 times more likely to be prosecuted under joint enterprise than white people. It’s unconscionable that such a practice exists, sweeping countless people unfairly into the criminal justice system, with many serving very long prison sentences – in some cases for life – for crimes they did not commit.

“Now that the racial injustice in the system is plain for all to see, the Government must urgently end the use of joint enterprise to prevent the lives of more young people and their families from being ruined.”

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