Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence minutes: June 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 16 June 2021.

Attendees and apologies

  • Scottish Government (SG) – Justice Analytical Services (JAS)
  • SG – Police Division
  • SG – Communities Analytical Division (CAD)
  • SLAB (Scottish Legal Aid Board)
  • CRER (Coalition for Racial and Equality Rights)
  • Glasgow University; SCCJR (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research)
  • Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Police Scotland (PS)
  • SIPR (Scottish Institute for Policing Research)
  • SFRS (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service)
  • Community Justice
  • CEMVO Scotland (The Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations)

Items and actions

Introductions and apologies

JAS welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for attending. Everyone introduced themselves.

Review of group’s progress to date

JAS brought up previous meetings and asked if there were any comments on the goals and pace. Also, members were asked if they wanted to make any changes to the published version of minutes. No changes were suggested.

Stakeholders commented that the last meeting was very helpful and most of them have discussed it internally.

Ethnic group classifications for data collection

JAS started the discussion by presenting Paper 1 on the Ethnic group classification based on the 2022 Scottish Ethnicity Classifications. It has been suggested that the group adopts the classification developed by NRS as the most versatile option.

Group members discussed the ambition to move towards the 2022 census categories, steps required, potential system issues and timelines. It has been mentioned that consistency among organisations is crucial. Some members raised concerns about the classification mixing up ‘ethnicity’ with ‘nationality’. JAS mentioned NRS looked at utilising the ‘geography-based approach’ and it did not work. They mentioned there’s a ‘write-in’ option to enable recording of groups that are not included on the main list.

Some members wanted to make everyone aware that this is not just limited to the justice system but affects our partners working in other areas.

It has been asked if we have looked at other ways of recording ethnicity. JAS confirmed this has been checked and the other organisations are using various systems (from 6 to 20+ categories).

It has been agreed that the census classification seems to be the best option available.

JAS reaffirmed to others they are content to support agencies through the transitional process if required. Organisations should report on the process.

Update on engagement work

JAS: Engagement with community groups will now be through online discussion groups, rather than an online survey, with groups taking place in the summer. Findings from the online survey with academics / researchers presented. Twenty-one people responded to the survey. The majority of respondents had experience of research around ethnicity and justice, and provided information around this, including obstacles they had faced and potential solutions to overcome these. Respondents also indicated areas they think are priorities for further research. The majority of respondents had used ethnicity data from the Scottish Government / Justice Organisations and provided information about their satisfaction with it and barriers to using it. 

Plans for ethnicity analysis from Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

JAS: Plans for ethnicity analysis from Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (Paper 2).


JAS asked for any other comments on the progress so far. New members said the meeting has been helpful and it is useful to see how we are trying to understand, help and represent communities by improving the data. It should help to raise awareness, visibility and importance of our data collections.

At the same time we need to establish which areas across the system need further recommendation and improvement.

JAS highlighted it is essential to maintain the momentum.

Next meeting

Date of next meeting – to be arranged for late August 2021.

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