Black and Minority Ethnic Crime Prevention Issues

BME People As Victims and Perpetrators

This introductory page covers the general background and links to the BME issues in crime reduction and community safety. They fall into two parts:
  • BME people as victims of crime
  • BME people as perpetrators of crime

Neither of these two areas have been fully explored and therefore with the  recent changes in UK demographics and required changes in the delivery of community safety - with the influx of eastern European peoples from the A8 countries - services are having to change through topical experience rather than planned development to effectively tackle the new and emerging crime and disorder problems. On this site these issues are covered on this page and on Hate Crime (Race) and Community Engagement.

Black and ethnic minority people are significantly over represented as victims and perpetrators of crime. This appears to be so in most western countries. Much research in the 80's and 90's illustrated that the institutions within the criminal justice system were racist; there was a distinct lack of economic and social analysis - was it racism or the place of 1st and 2nd generation black migrant peoples in the economic and social order that produced an environment in which crime flourished?


Stephen Lawrence

Although the Macpherson inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence (published in 1999 - see link below) clearly illustrated the institutional racism within the criminal justice system and very clear recommendations on practice and approach were identified, little has been done in a systematic way to maintain the initial, post Macpherson flurry of activity.

However, actual practices did not change. There are a number of reasons why this has been the case and we would suggest that two of those has been institutional inertia (reluctance to and rejection of change) coupled with a confused description of the place of black people within criminal justice (characterised too often as the main 'natural' perpetrator of certain types of crime).

As mentioned above the rapidly changing demographics in the UK and especially in its major cities mean that different problems are now presenting themselves. This is not to say that the old one are not still with us but in the context of crime and disorder new higher profile issues linked to new and emerging communities with increasing percentages of immigrants in UK gaols, use of violence within the context of immigrants recent experience, misuse of drugs and alcohol etc are changing the emphasis of community safety work and the perception of the crime stereotype.

The CJS and BME Communities - the facts

The Criminal Justice System (CJS) appears to consistently discriminate against BME communities and individuals. This is at least partly explicable in that BME communities tend to live in areas which are more frequently policed and that the criminal justice process in consequence is more likely to process those communities and individuals.

The report Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2010 published by the  Ministry of Justice (June 2011) under Section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act, provides details of how members of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community in England and Wales are represented in our Criminal Justice System.


Findings from the 2008/09 British Crime Survey suggested the risk of adults (aged 16 and over) being a victim of crime were higher for those from a Mixed background (35% of people within this group were victims) than from other ethnic groups; and greater for those from an Asian (26%) than from a White ethnic background (23%). These differences were statistically significant. There were no statistically significant differences between the risks of being a victim for adults from a Black background (24%) compared with those from a White background (23%).

In 2008/09, 55,862 racist incidents were recorded by the police – a decrease of 4% compared to 2007/08 when 58,445 racist incidents were recorded. Trends for the last four years showed that, following an increase between 2005/06 and 2006/07, the number of racist incidents decreased in 2007/08 and 2008/09.

The number of racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by the police in 2008/09 was 36,752. There was an increase in these offences between 2005/06 and 2006/07, followed by a decrease in 2007/08 and 2008/09.

WAVES (the Witness and Victim Experience Survey) data for cases closed between April 2008 and March 2009 showed that, while the majority of victims across all ethnic groups were satisfied with their overall contact with the CJS, fewer victims in the Black (75%) and Mixed (72%) ethnic groups reported being satisfied with their overall contact with the CJS than in the White ethnic group (80%). These differences were statistically significant.

The statistical findings publication Racist Incidents, England and Wales, 2010/11 contains the numbers of racist incidents recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2010/11. A “racist incident” is any incident, including any crime, which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person. The main finding was that the number of racist incidents recorded by the police in England and Wales decreased by seven per cent from 54,872 in 2009/10 to 51,187 in 2010/11.

Suspects: Stops and Arrests

The police recorded 1,142,763 Stops and Searches using s1 PACE and other legislation (hereafter referred to as ‘Stops and Searches’) in 2008/09 – a 10% increase on the previous year (1,036,363). Of the Stop and Searches carried out, 15% were of Black people, 9% of Asian people, 3% of people of Mixed ethnicity, and 1% of people from a Chinese or Other background.

In 2008/09, there were over seven times more Stop and Searches of Black people per head of population than of White people, and over twice as many Stop and Searches per head of population of Asian people and people of Mixed ethnicity. As stated in the report, "When referring to the rate per head of population for England and Wales, it is important to bear in mind that the higher rate than that obtained for London and the rest of England and Wales is the product of the aggregation of forty-two police force areas (PFAs) each with different distributions of both ethnic population and use of Stop and Search. While the Metropolitan Police Service accounts for 14% of the England and Wales population, 42% of Stop and Searches are carried out by the Metropolitan Police Service."

The number of Stop and Searches increased across all ethnic groups in each year between 2004/05 and 2008/09. The number of White people being Stopped and Searched increased by just under 30% between 2004/05 and 2008/09, while the number of Black and Asian people being Stopped and Searched increased by over 70%.


In 2008/09, there were three times more arrests of Black people than of White people per 1,000 population.

Trend data show that there was a 4% increase in Arrests of White people between 2004/05 and 2008/09, a 16% increase for Black people, and a 26% rise for Asian people. The available population data (for 2004 to 2007) – PEEGs – suggest there was a 1% rise in the White population, an 11% increase in the Black population, and a 15% rise in the Asian population.

BME Issues in Crime Prevention and Community Safety

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Online version of Final Report and Action Plan progress associated with Sir William Macpherson's Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence on 22 April 1993.

Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee published the report of its Inquiry on Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System (CJS)1 on Friday 15 June 2007. The Inquiry looked at the relationship between young black people and the CJS, focusing on the reasons for their over-representation in the system. This Command Paper sets out the Government’s response to the recommendations in that report.

Racial Crime and Harassment

An archived Home Office 'toolkit' giving the background to race crime offending, an analysis of the issues and local solutions.

Updated May 2015