National Statistics: Race and the criminal justice system 2016

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Biennial statistics on the representation of ethnic groups as victims, suspects, defendants offenders and employees in the criminal justice system.

These reports are released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and produced in accordance with arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.


This publication compiles statistics from data sources across the Criminal Justice System (CJS), to provide a combined perspective on the typical experiences of different ethnic groups. No causative links can be drawn from these summary statistics, and no controls have been applied to account for differences in circumstances between groups (e.g. average income or age); differences observed may indicate areas worth further investigation, but should not be taken as evidence of bias or as direct effects of ethnicity.

In general, Non-White ethnic groups tend to be over-represented at most stages throughout the CJS, compared with the White ethnic group. Among non-White groups, Black and Mixed individuals were often the most over-represented. Trends over time for each ethnic group have tended to mirror overall trends, with little change in relative positions between ethnic groups.

Specific findings


  • The Mixed ethnic group was the most likely to be a victim of personal crime (7.4%), and the Asian or Asian British ethnic group were the least likely (2.6%). Additionally, the Black ethnic group were 4 times more likely than the White ethnic group to be a victim of homicide.
  • There was an 18% rise in police recorded racially or religiously aggravated offences compared with the previous year and a 62% increase over the past 5 years.

Police activity

  • In 2016 to 2017, compared with the White ethnic group, stops and searches proportionate to population size were more likely to be carried out on the Black (eight times as likely), Mixed (between 2 and 3 times as likely), Asian (just over 2 times as likely) and Chinese or Other (one and a half as likely) ethnic groups.
  • Compared with the White ethnic group, arrests were more likely to be carried out on the Black (3 and half times more likely) and Mixed (twice as likely) ethnic groups relative to their population size.


  • Relative to the population, the rates of prosecution for indictable offences for Black and Mixed ethnic groups were 4 and 2 times higher than for the White ethnic group.
  • White defendants have tended to have the highest conviction ratio for indictable offences out of all ethnic groups since 2012 (ranging from 80% to 86%).
  • In 2016, Black and Mixed defendants were 23% and 18% more likely than White defendants to be remanded in custody in Crown Court for indictable offences.
  • The custody rate for Asian offenders has been increasing over the last 5 years and in 2016 they were 11% more likely than White offenders to receive a custodial sentence. Black and Asian offenders have consistently had the highest average custodial sentence length (ACSL) since 2012.
  • White defendants had the highest guilty plea rate for indictable offences at the Crown Court in 2016 at 71%. The guilty plea rate for all other ethnic groups ranged between 56% and 64%.

Offender characteristics

  • Prosecution rate relative to the population was highest for Black juveniles (12 juveniles per 1,000 people in the population). The rate for White juveniles was 2 per 1,000.
  • Black and ‘Asian and Other’ young people in the matched cohort sentenced in 2014 had a greater proportion achieving 5 or more GCSEs graded A* – C and A* – G for all sentencing outcomes.

Offenders under supervision or custody

The proportion of the prison population varied greatly between ethnic groups: there were around 16 prisoners for every 10,000 people, similar to the White and Asian rates, but this includes only 5 prisoners for each 10,000 Chinese or Other population members, and 47 and 58 prisoners for each 10,000 Mixed and Black population members respectively.


Non-White ethnic groups were under-represented relative to the population among the police, National Offender Management Service , judiciary and magistracy with proportions increasing slowly or remaining the same over the last 5 years. Non-White ethnic groups were over-represented relative to the population among the Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service with proportions increasing over the last 5 years.

Pre-release access

The bulletin is produced and handled by the ministry’s analytical professionals and production staff. Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:

Ministry of Justice

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice; Minister of State for courts and justice; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for prisons and probation; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for victims, youth and family justice; Lords spokesperson; Permanent Secretary; Director General, Prisons Policy Group; Acting Director General for Justice and Courts Policy; Director General, Finance Group; Director, Criminal Justice Policy; Director Offender and Youth Justice Policy, Probation and Youth Justice Policy; Director of Communication; Director for Analytical Services and Chief Economist; Chief Statistician; Head of Criminal Justice System Statistics; Equalities analyst; Head YJB Statistics; Head of NOMS Equalities Statistics; 11 Policy Advisors, Press Officers, 11 Private Secretaries; and 2 Special Advisors.

Home Office

Home Secretary; Permanent Secretary; Director of Crime; Head of Crime and Policing Statistics; Crime and Policing Analyst; Chief Statistician; 4 Private Secretaries, 1 Press Officers; and 3 Special Advisors. Department for Education Secretary of State for Education; Minister of State for Children and Families; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System; Head of Children and Schools Statistics Unit; Head of Profession for Statistics; Deputy Head of Profession for Statistics; and Statistician, Children and Schools Statistics Unit.

Attorney General’s Office

1 Policy Advisor

Lord Chief Justice’s Office

Lord Chief Justice; Head of the Criminal Justice Team; 1 Legal Advisor; 1 Private Secretary; and 1 Policy Advisor.

Office for National Statistics

Head of Crime Statistics

Parole Board

Chief Executive Officer; Enhanced Case Management Team Leader; and East & West Midlands Team Leader

Crown Prosecution Service

3 Human Resource Analysts

NHS England

1 Commissioning Adviser

HM Inspectorate of Prisons

1 Research Officer


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