Equality issues go to the heart of our system of justice which demands that all are treated as equals before the law. This is recognised not only as that standard embodiment of justice as a figure blindfolded but also in terms of the judicial oath. It is therefore a matter of gravest concern if members of particular groups feel they are discriminated against by the criminal or civil justice system and 'more so if their fears were borne out in reality', said Lord Taylor of Gosforth in 1995.
In terms of policy and research developments, civil and criminal justice issues are usually treated as distinct and separate disciplines. However, in the broadest sense, both civil and criminal issues can been seen to impact upon particular sections of the population in two ways:
- The treatment and experiences of people from minority ethnic groups, LGBT people, disabled people, women and other groups within the civil and criminal justice system.
- The risk of experiencing particular types of civil and criminal problems more frequently as a person from a minority ethnic group, disabled person, lesbian, gay or transgender person or as a woman.
The impact of crime and the criminal justice system on minority groups and women has been a longstanding topic of debate. However, it is only relatively recently that issues relating to inequalities in civil justice have been brought to the fore. The following resources will provide some indication of how criminal and civil justice impacts on women, people from minority ethnic groups, disabled people, older people and others.