The Sentencing Academy has produced a report on the link between ethnicity and custodial sentences between 2009 and 2019. It found that BAME groups are associated with greater use of imprisonment, with black offenders receiving the most severe punishments.

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If you need a criminal defence solicitor, contact us at Ashmans. We specialise in criminal defence law and represent clients across England and Wales. We offer free police station representation and are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Discrimination in sentencing

Various reports have been published in the past regarding the role of race and ethnicity in sentencing decisions. The Sentencing Academy has recently published another report, this time looking at sentencing trends across a 10 year period. Two key issues emerged:

  1. There is ethnic disproportionality, with a greater number of BAME individuals appearing in the criminal justice system
  2. There are differential sentencing outcomes for BAME individuals compared to white offenders

In fact, the expected custodial sentence for an Asian offender in 2019 was 10.2 months, compared to just 6.6 months for a white offender. The greatest gap in sentencing existed in relation to violent offences.

Key conclusions

The report concluded that the rates of immediate imprisonment for BAME defendants have been high than for white offenders for many years. However, it is not clear why certain ethnicities are linked to higher custody rates. More research is needed to ensure the disparities can be addressed, particularly in relation to sentencing trends in the Magistrates’ Court where the majority of offenders are dealt with.

The report’s additional conclusions are that:

  • BAME groups are associated with greater use of imprisonment
  • Visible minority offenders attract higher custody rates than white offenders, but the ordering of different groups varies from study to study
  • Group-based differences in custody rates and custodial sentence lengths are consistently statistically significant
  • There is long-standing evidence of ethnicity-based differences using custody rates and average custodial sentence lengths
  • Between 2009 and 2019, black offenders attracted the most punitive punishment levels
  • Ethnicity-based differences emerge most consistently and strongly for drug offences

Criminal solicitors – England and Wales

If you need a criminal defence lawyer, contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors for free legal advice. We robustly defend all our clients. We will work to ensure that you are not unfairly discriminated against in court.

Call us on 0333 009 6275. You can also email us at or complete our Free Online Enquiry Form and we will contact you.

We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We also offer free police station representation.