'Asians less likely to get justice from CPS'

A study led by Prof Gus John says Asians are more likely to be prosecuted on weaker evidence than whites.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:20 IST

A devastating report has accused the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of racism against Asians and Blacks. In the biggest survey ever undertaken, nearly 13000 cases were scrutinised by external investigators for evidence of sexual and racial discrimination.

It is alleged that Asians were more likely to be prosecuted on weaker evidence than whites, and cases against Blacks were more likely to succeed than those with white defendants. HindustanTimes.com was told by an Indian GP that he was more likely to be stopped if seen using mobile phone while driving than his white counterpart.

The finding, coming on the heels of the BBC documentary exposing racial tendencies in some white police recruits in Greater Manchester Constabulary, has triggered a major debate on institutionalised racism in the police force and other public utility services.

The Study led by Professor Gus John, a key adviser of Home Secretary David Blunkett on race, found evidence that at virtually every stage of the prosecution process Asian and Black people appeared to suffer discrimination.

Gus John has called for major changes in the CPS. His study found that prosecutors were more likely to object to Black suspects being given bail, and tended to send white suspects in racially motivated crimes to magistrates courts-lessening the severity of the sentences they may receive.

Worse is the finding that cases involving Asian defendants were more likely to fail than those involving white suspects, suggesting weaker cases were being brought by prosecutors.

The Study also found the CPS tended more to accept a plea bargain in which a defendant pleaded guilty in return for a lower sentence and avoiding a full-scale trial, for white than black and Asian suspects.

In a case, a 15-year-old Asian boy was severely beaten by a 17-year-old white youth. The victim told the police the attack was racially motivated and was backed by two witnesses. But it is said neither police nor CPS brought charges of racial aggravation.

In another case a white man assaulted two Asians while shouting: "Have you got a problem, you Paki f******? They sustained serious injuries. The case was discontinued by the CPS alleging there was "insufficient evidence".

Now the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has promised to implement the main proposal that specialist prosecutors in each CPS area would oversee racist and religiously motivated crimes. He also promised that all the faults identified in the study would be put right.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said: "The CPS has now significant changes to make to its policy and practices in this area."

Gus John has also recommended a system monitoring all cases on ground of ethnicity, gender and age from when suspects are charged until the conclusion of the trial.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST