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New Anti-Racism Action Plan launched for Criminal Justice in Wales

Criminal Justice in Wales has launched its new Anti-Racism Action Plan, outlining the determination of partners to do all they can, individually and collectively to root out any form of racism across the Criminal Justice System.

Events during 2020, including the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, resonated across the world and reminded us of the importance of recognising and acknowledging that inequality and racial injustice are apparent across all aspects of people’s lives. This highlighted the real need for public services to not only define the challenge but to clearly articulate a collective response and commitment to real, meaningful and sustainable change.

In response, the Criminal Justice Board for Wales agreed that a key priority for its commitment to race equality would be to advance, develop and implement a dedicated and transparent Anti-Racism Action Plan for the Criminal Justice System in Wales.

The plan has been developed to compliment the Welsh Government Anti-Racist Wales Action Plan, launched in June 2022, which includes a Crime & Justice section, to support a whole system, one public service, response to race equality. This approach provided the opportunity to outline how they will address hate crime and community cohesion, whilst also explaining how their plan will work seamlessly with the Criminal Justice Anti-Racism Plan for Wales.

From the outset, Criminal Justice in Wales committed to listening, hearing and incorporating the experiences and voices of those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to guide the development of the document.

This has seen the Anti-Racism Action Plan evolve over an 18-month period, capturing and establishing each step required to achieve real change across the Criminal Justice System. This has involved over 600 members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, helping to co-produce a plan that recognises the unique landscape in Wales and which truly meet the needs of our communities.

With support from Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team Wales, Criminal Justice in Wales are also today announcing the introduction of a new Independent Oversight & Advisory Panel to oversee the progress of the Plan. The Panel consists of 12 members, drawn from across Wales with diverse professional backgrounds and lived experience, to provide scrutiny and crucially will hold the Criminal Justice Board to account for the delivery of the Plan. The Panel will play a crucial role in ensuring that the ambitions of the plan are realised, bringing the necessary change to all levels of the Criminal Justice System in Wales.

Speaking of the launch of the Plan, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Emma Wools said:

“I feel both professionally and personally honoured and proud to have led on the work of developing this progressive Anti-Racism Action Plan, alongside my colleagues Chief Constable Pam Kelly and Executive Director Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, Chris Jennings.

“I understand and share the frustration from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people at the lack of change to date, coupled with a denial in the past that change was needed. I am therefore determined to use this Plan and my position to ensure people who use the Criminal Justice System do not experience racism in any form.

“My criminal justice colleagues and I were clear from the outset that this plan was to be written with, and delivered for, minority ethnic people across Wales.  We upheld this commitment, engaging with over 600 individuals throughout its development and I am confident that we now have a plan that is honest, transparent and accountable to our communities.”

Amy Rees, Chair of the Criminal Justice Board for Wales added:

“Events in 2020 saw people across the world come together to protest against racism, with discrimination within the criminal justice system central to the call for change. Racism is a shameful stain on the fabric of our society that we must remove together.

“Criminal Justice in Wales responded swiftly, working alongside Welsh Government to produce a plan that compliments their ambition for an Anti-Racist Wales. This collective commitment is so important because we can only eradicate racism from the Criminal Justice System if we commit to eliminating it from society as whole.

“We know that the Criminal Justice in Wales Anti-Racism Action Plan isn’t the first to make ambitious statements about addressing racism but our commitment to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities from the outset has been that the Plan will be built with you and its success determined by you. The establishment of the Independent Oversight & Advisory Panel will provide the scrutiny that holds us to account, ensuring that the difference can be seen and felt across all levels of the Criminal Justice System in Wales.”

Chantal Patel, Chair of the new Independent Oversight & Advisory Panel said:

“I am incredibly honoured and proud to have been appointed as Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel and pleased that we are taking the tackling of racism seriously, working together with community members to raise the awareness and address racial inequality.

“It is clear that we need to acknowledge and tackle the current over-representation of people from racial & ethnic minorities in the Criminal Justice System and together we need to work tirelessly to transform it, so that it meets the needs of ethnic minorities as well as being representative of people from all ethnic backgrounds.

“My fellow members and I are determined to ensure that the Independent Oversight & Advisory Panel provides honest and constructive challenge around the delivery of the Plan to ensure real change is realised.”