Justice - ethnicity research and data priorities: academic/researchers survey results

Survey results from academics and researchers in Scotland about their experience of, and priorities around, research and data on ethnicity and justice. Conducted on behalf of the Cross Justice Working Group on Race Data and Evidence.

Key Points Summary

  • This survey asking academics / researchers about their experience of, and priorities around, research and data on ethnicity and justice received 21 responses.
  • The number of responses is small and therefore percentages presented in the report should be treated with caution.

Section 1: Experience of research around ethnicity and justice and any plans for future research

  • The majority of respondents had conducted previous or current research around ethnicity and justice and around half hoped to carry out such research in future.
  • The most commonly cited topics for previous, current or future research were: experience of crime and feelings of safety; and police
  • And the least commonly cited were: post–prison activities and processes, with no respondents selecting this; and civil justice; and non-custodial sentences.
  • 20 respondents provided details of their previous, current or future research projects – these will be summarised in a separate document
  • Obstacles described included: issues with ethnicity data (lack of existing data, small population size and “coarse” categorisations); participation in research and how questions were asked; and issues with the research process more broadly (lack of funding, gatekeepers restricting access)
  • Suggested solutions to these obstacles included: giving more priority and funding to this area; increasing the availability of ethnicity data; and building relationships and trust with minority ethnic communities

Section 2 – Research Priorities

  • Police and experience of crime and feelings of safety were identified as the top priorities for further research around ethnicity and justice. Around half of respondents mentioned prevention and early intervention activities and the Courts as priorities.
  • A lack of existing research in a Scottish context was cited as a reason why a topic was a priority, as was the need to understand and challenge any bias or prejudice faced by minority ethnic communities in the Criminal Justice System

Section 3 – Data Priorities

  • The majority of respondents had used ethnicity data from Justice Organisations/ The Scottish Government in their research
  • There were high levels of dissatisfaction with the data’s ability to answer their research questions
  • Respondents had faced a variety of barriers, most commonly low population coverage and not being aware of what data exists
  • Two thirds of respondents thought there were key areas or specific research questions where better ethnicity data from Justice Organisations was required
  • Three quarters of respondents thought that having access to improved ethnicity data would have a positive impact on their ability to answer priority research questions.
  • There were very high, nearly universal levels of support for allowing people to self-report their ethnicity, including ethnicity as a mandatory data collection item and publishing statistics that include ethnicity information.
  • Over half of respondents thought it was important to use a standard classification for ethnicity, such as the Census Classification, although some respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the census classification.


Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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