Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system

JUST West Yorkshire, in coalition with other organisations wrote in response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation Transforming legal aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system. This response, from a number of leading race equality organisations, has been co-ordinated by Equanomics UK and is supported by the Afiya Trust, the Black South West Network, the Black Training Enterprise Group (BTEG), the Coalition for Racial Justice (UK), the Every Generation Foundation, Friends Families and Travellers, Just West Yorkshire, the Minority Ethnic Network Eastern Region (MENTER), OLMEC, Operation Black Vote (OBV), the Race Equality Foundation, Race on the Agenda (ROTA), the Runnymede Trust and Voice4Change England. We represent a wide array of interests and are based throughout the UK.

To read the submission: Final submission Equanomics and partners 4-6-13 fin

Response to “Creating the Conditions for Integration’

The government’s integration strategy – “Creating the Conditions for Integration” – was published on Tuesday 21st February. We believe that this document does little to address the persistent racial inequalities that exist across the nation, despite the fact that the government has presented it as equivalent to a race equality strategy.

The document provides few real solutions on how to foster integration, and it appears that the government does not view integration as a two-way process.

We are also concerned that it was put together without proper consultation with ethnic minority organisations, includes little evidence to back up its claims and is not a substitute for a strategy to tackle racism and racial injustice.

To read more of this please follow the link: Integration Strategy Briefing

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PROPOSALS FOR AN ELECTED POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER: JUST WEST YORKSHIRE’S RESPONSE TO THE CONSULTATION

A Black and Minority Ethnic Perspective

JUST opposes proposals to elect a police and crime commissioner on the following grounds:

  1. We are not convinced that an elected commissioner will enhance the accountability of the police force any more than the present tripartite relationship between the chief constables, the Home Secretary and police authorities made up of councillors and lay individuals already achieves. It is our view that accountability for BME communities is better achieved through the police ensuring that it meets its current duties and obligations to BME communities in the following ways:
  •  Rigorously implement the Recommendations in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report and the ACPO Guidance on Hate Crime
  • Comply with the Equality Standard for the Police Service
  • Develop Neighbourhood Policing Strategies that are decoupled from the war on terror and war on extremism agendas
  • Scrutinise performance at a local level using the National Intelligence Model in order to address any disproportionate delivery of policing that targets particular communities.
  • Monitor satisfaction levels and take action to address differences in satisfaction between White and BME service users
  • Align the National Occupational Standards for diversity (AA1 & AA2) to the Home Office Strategy for Improving Performance in Race & Diversity and the Police Race & Diversity Learning & Development Programme (PRDLDP).
  • Ensure that the Home Office target that all staff should be accredited as being competent in promoting equality and valuing the diversity of people (NOS AA1) by 2010 is prioritised
  • Consult with communities on performance against the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) Equality Standard introduced in 2009.
  • Meet the obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 that places a general duty on the Police to have due regard to:- tackle racial discrimination, promote equal opportunity and promote good relations between people from different racial groups.

In line with the duties ensure that Race Equality Schemes, Race Equality Impact Assessments and community consultations are integral to meeting the duties under the RRAA

  • Ensure that the outputs and outcomes within the APACS indicators relating to Race equality indicators and targets is responsive to the needs and experiences of BME communities

To read more of this please follow the link: Proposals for an elected police commissioner

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JUST’s response to the Government Equalities Office consultation to the Equalities Bill

For many years race equality activists had argued that the Race Relations Act 1976 was inadequate in tackling racial inequalities in the UK. The murder of Stephen Lawrence propelled the debate and the Lawrence Inquiry called by Jack Straw MP resulted in the most thorough piece of race equality legislation across Europe – The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. Its particular strength was the tools it offered to tackle institutional racism – as defined by the Lawrence inquiry, which said that this was at the heart of the failures of policing in the Stephen Lawrence case. Many other British institutions also admitted institutional racism to be a factor in their organisations. The then Commission for Racial Equality developed codes and guidance for the new Act. Millions of pounds have been spent by public authorities in meeting the requirements of the Act including for Race Equality Schemes.

Now we potentially have a new Act which if it gets passed may not have any requirements for Race Equality Schemes or impact assessments. This is because:

1. The new government will have the power to decide what specific duties are attached to the Act

2. There are current proposals to replace schemes with ‘objectives’ set by the authorities themselves.

To read more of this please follow the link: Government Equalities Office consultation

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JUST WEST YORKSHIRE’S RESPONSE TO THE COMMUNITY AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S CALL FOR EVIDENCE TO THE INQUIRY ON THE PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM PROGRAMME

JUST has long been campaigning against the government’s Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) agenda which is part of The UK’s ‘CONTEST 2’ strategy for Combating International Terrorism.

JUST’s objections to the Prevent programme are based on the following grounds:

  • It has led to the disproportionate criminalisation of BME and particularly Muslim communities
  • It locates the burden for fighting terrorism on the Muslim community despite the fact that the majority are peace-loving citizens of the UK.
  • The current usage of the terminology of violent extremism is discriminatory as it ignores the very real threats from far-right and other forms of extremism.
  • It has drawn statutory bodies into the ‘securitisation’ agenda thereby dismantling the traditional relationships of trust and confidence between public bodies and service users.
  • It has led to the abandonment of funding for traditional community development, capacity building and empowerment work with BME communities, replacing it instead with community cohesion, anti-extremism and anti-terrorism approaches which have put Muslim communities under the intense spotlight of the far right and the press and media. (It has created a politics of us and them which stands in direct contradiction to the government’s community cohesion policy)
  • It reinforces negative stereotypes and associations of Islam with terrorism and views the British Muslim community through the single issue of terrorism

To read more of this please follow the link: PVE Programme

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