The issue of race equality has long been recognised as essential to ensuring the effective and fair operation of Scotland's justice system. In 2020 and 2021 events in the UK and internationally have brought this into even sharper focus. Concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the differential impacts of COVID-19 on people from minority ethnic backgrounds, evidence the need for an increased focus on issues of race to understand and improve the experience of minority ethnic individuals in Scotland, in relation to the justice system in 2020.
The establishment of an Expert Reference Group on COVID-19and Ethnicity demonstrates the Scottish Government's concern about reports from England and the USA that people from minority ethnic backgrounds may be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both in terms of adverse health outcomes and in a wider context, including economically. The work of this Group will help to ensure there is an accurate understanding of COVID-19's impact on minority ethnic communities in Scotland, and that our policy responses reflect this.
It is within the wider context outlined above that the Justice Board agreed in Summer 2020, to establish two groups; Cross Justice working group on Race and Workforce and Cross Justice working group on Race, Data and Evidence.
This report provides an overview of the progress from the Cross Justice working group on Race and Workforce (the Group). The membership of the group, the terms of reference and an overview of the Justice organisations that make up the Justice sector in Scotland are set out at Annexes A, B and C.