Is the British Criminal Justice System institutionally racist? / Hiliaeth sefydliadol o fewn y System Cyfiawnder Troseddol? English and Welsh translations.

English / Saesneg:

There are strong implications that ethnic minorities in Britain, particularly the black community, get treated a lot more unfairly by the Justice System. For instance, the number of black prisoners counts for 13% on a whole, where the population of the black community counts for only 2.8%. Similarly, 5.8% of our society belong to the Asian community (for instance, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian etc.), but 7.9% of all prisoners are Asian too. These statistics are comparable with the underrepresentation of white people in prison: 88% of us are white, but prison consists of 73% of white ethnicity. This tells us that ethnic minority groups (EMG’s) are hugely overrepresented in the prison system. On one hand, a lot of sociologists do consider this to be a matter of institutional racism, but other possible explanations need to be explored in order to come to a full conclusion.

Institutional racism is a term that refers to prejudice and racial bias in a social system, in this case, the police would be an example. “Institutional racism is about stereotyping; it is about ignorance… it is about seeing black people as a problem and it is about White pretence” (Grieve and French). Thus, for these reasons, the police are much more likely to target black people, and they’re much more likely to be “stopped and searched” by the police. The ‘Youth Justice Board’ (YJB) support this claim through their research into the overrepresentation of young people from EMG’s in crime. Between 2003-4, they counted as 2/5 of every case of stop and searches, particularly amongst the younger generation. In London alone, black males are 28% more likely to be stopped and searched than any other ethnic group.

Then again, demographic reasons offer an explanation for this. The population of EMG’s appears to be younger. In fact, 40% of the black community are under 16, compared to 35% of Pakistanis and only 20% of white people (National Statistics, 2005). But to reinforce my former point, Smith, Gray and Holdaway argue that the police follow old stereotypes of people from EMG’s and target them as potential suspects as a result. Many sociologists are doubtful of this because of the victim’s prejudice, so essentially the police only target these particular groups because they are who the public tend to report.

The term “Canteen Culture” was coined by an ex-police officer named Reyner and is used to describe racism within the police force. He believes that racial prejudice and sexism is bred and nurtured within the police force because they arguably need to adopt these feelings in order to be part of the “rank”. These ideas are morphed into the police system because they tend to work long hours in a stressful work setting, so for many people, negative influences are often hard to ignore.

What the Metropolitan police say is that racism within the police force is a mere reflection of the racism in society as a whole. Macpherson reinforces this idea by saying that the vast majority of police officers are white males, which allows racism because it does not reflect Britain’s multicultural society. Exactly 10% of the police force come from EMG backgrounds. Even Sir Anthony Burden of the South Wales Police agreed with this, ““I would be the first to accept that for 150 years, we have been a white male organisation”.

Not only that but the police tend to target areas with a higher population of people with ethnic minority backgrounds. Yet many sociologists argue against this theory by saying that the police are only hardening the targets and has no link whatsoever with racial bias.

The organisation ‘Crime Concern’ reiterates this idea that black males are much more likely to be thrown into the justice system because of their overrepresentation in risk groups, for instance, poverty, educational failures, mental health and a lack of positive role models. Statistics shows that people who experience poverty and deprivation, tend to be more inclined to commit a crime, respectively. In the same way, if these particular risk groups are tackled correctly, then it is likely that we would see the figures of overrepresentation fall. Merton states that people mainly commit crime because of status frustration, which could be linked to the amount of people from EMG who currently do tend to be a lot poorer than their white counterparts. So essentially, people from EMG are more likely to commit crimes because of the many problems they face in society, such as racism and poverty.

The ‘Race and Criminal Justice System’ states in their article that “black males are five times more likely to be imprisoned than white people”, and further investigations prove that black males and Asians are far more likely to receive immediate custody from the Court: 29% of Asians, 29% of black males and 22% of white males. These statistics should not be as it is if you consider the predominant population of the white community in Britain. It is evidence of the overrepresentation ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system. Then again, black males are statistically more likely to commit more serious crimes, so tougher treatment would seem logical in this sense.

Black criminals are more likely to receive fines and more community service compared to white people (Sharpe, 2005). Furthermore, a black magistrate once noted that black defendants were “more likely to receive harsh remarks, severe sentencing, disregard for personal mitigation, easy findings of guilt irrespective of evidence, most likely to refuse bale, and most likely to receive a sentence” (Bird, 2009). This outlines the idea that EMG are treated unjustly in comparison with white people.

There has been recent research into the probation system, and what was found was that there is a strong element of racial prejudice that is directed towards members of EMG, particularly towards the black community, “There has been a systematic failure to address issues of race and racial discrimination in an adequate but appropriate way” (Travis). Therefore racism is a factor exists, despite efforts for it to not be.

The labelling theory (Howard Becker, Interactionist), means that a person is never deviant until society labels him/her as one. This ties into the idea about the Criminal Justice System because everyone from any social group commit a crime, yet only a specific few are actually labelled as one. Often, people are labelled even if they’ve not committed any crime or act of deviance, and are only labelled because their identity is associated. For instance, an Asian may be called a “terrorist”, or a black person may be called a “drug dealer”. These labels have bad effects because it is likely that these targeted individuals can form a “self-fulfilling prophecy”, which means to live up to the label that has been given to them. Then again, this is not always the case because there has been a trend, though mainly female, who react to the unfair label by rebelling against it, and thus defeating the label. The police, specifically, react to these stereotypes by following them, according to Miller.

The Neo-Marxist Stuart Hall focuses on the labelling theory to explain the overrepresentation of black males in the Justice System, but instead of taking the Interactionist approach, he argues that people from ethnic minority groups use violence and crime as a frustrated response to institutional racism. They turn to racism as a way to survive in society, which could explain overrepresentation and the apparent racism of society as a whole.

The Left Realists contradict the labelling theory by stating that ethnic minority groups tend to commit more crime because of three main reasons: social exclusion, relative deprivation, where they feel rejected from society, and because of a lack of good role models, such as good parents. Therefore the Criminal Justice System is not necessarily to blame for the overrepresentation of ethnic minority groups, but there are other social factors which are (Lea and Young).

Of course, it’s obvious to us that institutional racism is still a problem within the Criminal Justice System after looking at the irrefutable evidence. Additionally, there are other factors that exist that explain the noticeably high statistics that I have mentioned before, such as poverty and academic failure. Yet institutional racism proves to be the overriding issue for many: 58% of black people feel that they’re treated unfairly by the police, compared to 41% of Indians, and 45% of Pakistanis. There’s a clear percentage who believe that they’re being mistreated by the Justice System.

The Criminal Justice System has, nevertheless, evolved to become more efficient in tackling racism in society, as a result, modernisation and efficiency. The police, in particular, have changed their tactics on dealing with racism efficiently and have become considerably more mindful and sensitive of it. Stephen Lawrence’s mother once stated that “The police made mistakes (in the past), but now they’ve learnt their lesson and they’ve not made the same mistake twice”.


Cymraeg / Welsh:

Mae awgrym cryf bod grwpiau ethnig, yn bennaf pobl groenddu, yn cael eu trin yn fwy llym gan y system cyfiawnder troseddol. Er enghraifft, mae canran o garcharwyr croenddu yn cyfri fel 13.2%, lle yn y gymdeithas, dim ond 2.8% o’r boblogaeth yn groenddu. Yn debyg, mae canran o garcharwyr Asiaidd yn cyfri fel 7.9%, lle dim ond 5.8% o’r boblogaeth Prydain yn Asiaidd. Mae modd gymharu hyn â phobl wen, gan fod dim ond 73% o garcharwyr ag ethnigrwydd gwyn, ac mae’r boblogaeth Prydain yn cynnwys 88% o bobl wen. Mae hyn yn dangos i ni fod grwpiau lleiafrifol ethnig yn cael eu gorgynrychioli o fewn y system cyfiawnder troseddol.  Ar un llaw, sonnir nifer o gymdeithasegwyr bod hyn yn adlewyrchu’r hiliaeth sefydliadol o fewn y system, ond hefyd nid oes modd anwybyddu’r rhesymau arall sy’n esbonio’r ystadegau.

Mae hiliaeth sefydliadol yn derm sy’n cyfeirio at hiliaeth o fewn system cymdeithasol, megis yr heddlu, “institutional racism is about stereotyping; it is about ignorance… it is about seineg black people as a problem and it is about White pretence” (Grieve a French). Ac am y rhesymau hyn, mae’r heddlu yn fwy tebygol o dargedu pobl groenddu, ac mae mwy ohonynt gael eu “stopio ac archwilio” gan yr heddlu. Ffeindiodd y ‘Youth Justice Board’ (YJB) fod y gor-gynrychiolaeth o ifancwyr o grwpiau ethnig lleiafrifol yn dechrau gyda’r ffigwr amghymesurol o ifancwyr a chafodd eu stopio ac archwilio gan yr heddlu. Rhwng 2003-4, roedd ifancwyr rhwng yr oedrannau deg ac ugain yn cyfri fel 2/5 o bob achos o stopio ac archwilio. Felly gall gor-gynrychiolaeth o bobl groenddu fod yn gysylltiedig ag oedran cyn unrhyw esboniad arall. Yn Llundain yn unig, mae bechgyn croenddu yn 28% yn fwy tebygol o gael eu stopio ac archwilio ganddynt.

Er hyn, gall resymau demograffig esbonio’r patrwm hyn. Mae gan grwpiau ethnig poblogaeth fwy ifanc: mae tua 40% o gymuned y dduon dan 16, a 35% o bobl Bacistanaidd, lle mae dim ond 20% o bob dan 16 allan o bobl wen (Swyddfa am Ystadegau Swyddogol, 2005). Ond i atgyfnerthu ar fy mhwynt blaenorol, mae Smith, Gray a Holdaway yn dadlau fod yr heddlu yn dilyn hen ystrydebau o bobl groenddu, ac yn targedu nhw’n fwy fel canlyniad. Mae rhai cymdeithasegwyr yn amheus o hyn gan ystyried tuedd y dioddefwyr, a gall yr heddlu targedu pobl ddu oherwydd dyna’r grŵp mae’r cyhoedd yn adrodd iddynt.

Mae hiliaeth ymysg yr heddlu yn cwympo o dan derm o’r enw “Canteen Culture” (Reyner), lle mae ymddygiadau hiliol a rhywiaethol yn bodoli o fewn yr heddlu oherwydd maent yn teimlo fel dyle nhw fod yn rhan o’r ranc. Caniateir i’r syniadau yma i bridio o fewn y system heddluol achos yr oriau hir mae’r heddlu yn gorfod gweithio; maent yn treulio amser eithriadol o hir â’i gilydd ac felly’n dylanwadu ar ei gilydd mewn ffordd negatif.

Ond, yn ôl yr Heddlu Metropolinaidd, mae’r hiliaeth sy’n bodoli o fewn yr heddlu yn adlewyrchu’r hiliaeth o fewn y gymdeithas. Mae Macpherson yn ehangu gan ddweud fod canran enfawr o’r boblogaeth o fewn yr heddlu yn wyn, ac maent yn hiliol gan nad yw’r sefydliad yn adlewyrchu cymdeithas amlddiwylliannol. Yn wir, dim ond 10% o’r heddlu yn dod o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig. Cytunodd Sir Anthony Burden, o’r Heddlu De Cymru, ar yr ystadegau hyn gan ddweud, “I would be the first to accept that for 150 years, we have been a white male organisation”.

Hefyd, mae’r heddlu yn dueddol o dargedu ardaloedd sydd â phoblogaeth uwch o bobl sy’n rhan o leiafrif ethnig. Ond nid yw rai cymdeithasegwyr yn gweld hyn fel ffactor hiliol oherwydd gall yr heddlu gael eu cymhelli i galedu targedu yn unig, a trwy dargedu ardaloedd lle mae poblogaeth uwch o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn mynd i edrych yn hiliol beth bynnag.

Mae’r sefydliad ‘Crime Concern’ yn atgyfnerthu’r syniad bod bechgyn croenddu yn dueddol o gael eu carlamu i yn y system droseddol oherwydd y gor-gynrychiolaeth mewn grwpiau risg, gan gynnwys tlodi, methiannau addysgol, iechyd meddyliol a diffyg rhieni sy’n ddylanwadol mewn ffordd gadarnhaol. Mae pobl sy’n profi tlodi ac amddifadedd yn fwy tebygol o gyflawni troseddau.  Mae tystiolaeth yn dangos fod lleihau’r targedau risg yn lleihau’r canran o droseddwyr sy’n rhan o grŵp lleiafrif ethnig, felly gall daclo’r ffactor hyn lleihau gor-gynrychiolaeth o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn y system cyfiawnder troseddol. Yn ôl Merton, mae pobl yn troseddu oherwydd rhwystredigaeth statws. Yn y cyd-destun yma, mae pobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn fwy tebygol o gyflawni trosedd oherwydd yr holl broblemau cymdeithasol maent yn eu hwynebu, megis diffyg addysg, tlodi, a hiliaeth.

Yn ôl adroddiad gan ‘Hil a’r System Cyfiawnder Troseddol’, mae “fechgyn du yn pum gwaith yn fwy tebygol o gael eu carcharu na phobl wen”, ac mae astudiaethau pellach yn dangos fod pobl groenddu ac Asiaidd yn dueddol o dderbyn dalfa ddi-oed gan y system cyfiawnder troseddol: 27% i’r dduon a 29% i bobl Asiaidd, gan gymharu â 22% i bobl wen. Dyle’r canrannau hyn ddim bod yn mor uwch na phobl wen gan fod canran uwch o bobl wen ym Mhrydain. Er hyn, mae astudiaethau’n dangos fod pobl o grwpiau ethnig lleiafrifol yn dueddol o gyflawni troseddau mwy difrifol, felly bu’n rhaid i’r system gyfreithiol eu trin yn fwy llym er gwaethaf eu hiliaeth.

Mae troseddwyr croenddu yn fwy tebygol o dderbyn ffin o arian a fwy o wasanaethu’r gymuned na phobl wen (Sharpe, 2005). Ac yn bellach, sylweddolodd ynad du fod diffynyddion du yn fwy tebygol o dderbyn “sylwadau llym, delfrydau difrifol, diystyru ar gyfer lliniaru personol, canfyddiadau hawdd o euogrwydd heb ystyried y dystiolaeth, ac yn fwy tebygol o fynd i’r carchar” (Bird, 2009). O hyn, mae’n glir fod pobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig yn cael eu trin yn wahanol na phobl wen.

Yn ddiweddar, cynhaliwyd ymchwiliadau i mewn i’r system ‘gwasanaethau prawf’ (probation system), a ffeindiwyd elfen gryf o hiliaeth tuag at grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig, yn bennaf yn erbyn pobl groenddu.“There has been a systematic failure to address issues of race and racial discrimination in an adequate but appropriate way” (Travis). Felly mae hiliaeth yn bodoli er gwaethaf yr holl ymdrechion i’w waredi.

Mae’r theori labelu (gan Howard Becker, rhyngweithwyr), yn golygu nad yw person yn gwyredig nes i’r gymdeithas ei labelu fel un. Mae hyn yn gysylltiedig gyda’r system cyfiawnder troseddol oherwydd gall bawb o bob grŵp cymdeithasol cyflawni trosedd, ond dim ond nifer gyfyngedig yn cael eu labelu’n gwyredig. Mae modd defnyddio’r damcaniaeth hyn fel esiampl, megis mae pob person du yn gwerthu cyffuriau, neu bob person Asiaidd yn derfysgwyr. Mae’r heddlu yn benodol yn ymateb i’r stereoteipiau hyn trwy eu dilyn nhw, yn ôl Miller.

Mae’r Neo Farcswyr Stuart Hall yn ffocysu ar y theori labelu esbonio gor-gynrychiolaeth o bobl ddu yn y system cyfiawnder, ond yn lle, mae’r grwpiau ethnig lleiafrifol yn defnyddio strategaethau troseddol fel ymateb rhwystredig i’r hiliaeth o fewn y gymdeithas, ac nid oherwydd hiliaeth systematig, o reidrwydd. Maent yn troi at drosedd fel ffordd o oroesi yn y gymdeithas.

Mae’r Realwyr y Chwith yn gwrthddweud y theori labelu trwy fynegi fod grwpiau ethnig lleiafrifol yn dueddol o droseddu’n fwy am dri phrif reswm: ymylaeth cymdeithasol, tlodi cymharol, felly’n teimlo’n wahardd o’r gymdeithas, ac isddiwylliannau sydd â dylanwadau gwael sydd wedi gwahanu o normau a gwerthoedd y gymdeithas. Felly nid yw’r system cyfiawnder troseddol yn gatalyst am gor-gynrychiolaeth o grwpiau lleiafrifol o fewn y system (Lea a Young).

Wrth gwrs, mae’n amlwg i ni fod hiliaeth sefydliadol dal yn broblem o fewn y system cyfiawnder troseddol. Bodola cymaint o ystadegau i brofi’r ffaith hyn. Gall ffactorau eraill tu hwnt o hiliaeth esbonio’r rhesymau dros ganran uwch o bobl o grwpiau lleiafrifoedd ethnig sy’n cyflawni troseddau, er enghraifft perthyn i grwpiau risg, megis tlodi a methiannau addysgiadol. Er hyn, mae 58% o bobl groenddu yn teimlo eu bod yn cael eu trin yn annheg gan yr heddlu, gan gymharu â 41% o bobl Indiaid a 45% o bobl Pacistanaidd. Mae canran amlwg o bobl yn credu mai’r system heddlu yn eu trin yn annheg.

Mae’r heddlu wedi ymdrechu, beth bynnag, i wella’r sefyllfa hyn gan ymateb i’r adroddiadau negatif sy’n cael eu cyhoeddi amdanynt. Mae’r heddlu yn newid eu tactegau am sut i ymdrin â’r gymdeithas heb gynnwys y ffactor hiliol fel ymateb i’r holl sylw drwg gan y gymdeithas. Yn ôl mam Stephen Lawrence, pwy fu farw o ymosodiad hiliol, “The police made mistakes (in the past), but now they’ve learnt their lesson and they’ve not made the same mistake twice”. Mae hyn yn awgrym fod y system cyfiawnder troseddol yn datblygu mewn ffordd gadarnhaol, ac am barhau gwella yn y dyfodol.


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