CPS harbours institutional racism
24 May 1999
According to one of its employees, the Crown Prosecution Service is inherently racist, and it is no wonder when all the top jobs belong to white men.
THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), David Calvert-Smith QC, addressing a group of minority lawyers on 5 May, said: "We who are white and male are prone to intuitive discrimination... I do hope and believe that the period of overt discrimination in the CPS is at an end." He then went further and said that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) could not afford to sack talented staff even if they were racist. But for black staff, racism in the CPS is not only institutionalised, it is blatantly apparent.
CPS prosecutor Neeta Amin successfully brought a case of racial victimisation against her employers. Was drastic action taken against the perpetrators? Were they sacked? The hell they were! They are still in the same positions or doing a different job on the same pay or - as in the ongoing race discrimination case brought by CPS prosecutor Maria Bamieh - have even been made chief crown prosecutors.
At the same meeting Calvert-Smith said he did not want to be confrontational and required "proof to the criminal standard... proof beyond reasonable doubt". It was pointed out to him that in employment tribunals the civil standard is required, whereupon he passed the buck to his chief executive, who "was really responsible for employment issues".
When you look at the top tier of the organisation is it any wonder that black staff have no faith? Although the post of DPP was advertised, in a Times interview Calvert-Smith said that he "only applied because a head-hunter asked me to" and, having been asked, surprise, surprise, he was selected. He admits: "I have no experience whatsoever of large organisations, let alone running them." And what about the chief executive? Guess what? No open competition and put in place by the Attorney General after a "round of internal interviews" - and this was before the DPP was selected.
Once the director and chief executives were appointed the rest of the team must have slotted into place. After a series of more internal Whitehall interviews, the director of casework was slotted in from his former role as chief inspector, the director of policy from his role as assistant director of casework services and the new chief inspector used to be in the legal secretariat to the law officers (the Attorney General's private office). You can imagine how the new so-called independent inspectorate will shape up, especially since the new chief inspector was also a former chief crown prosecutor.
The DPP's first letter to staff spoke about the appointment of the 42 chief crown prosecutors and his hope that there would be a good number of applications from women and ethnic minorities, "since both seem to be under-represented in the higher ranks of the service".
He went on to say: "I fear I have done my bit to increase that imbalance!" He certainly has. Bamieh, who was not deemed fit to pass a team leader board, then passed the chief crown prosecutor board. But, was she appointed? No. And she is now taking out a tribunal case against the CPS.
What was the result of the appointments? One black woman appointed as an assistant chief crown prosecutor and not one as chief. Every former chief crown prosecutor who wanted to stay on got slotted in as a chief or somewhere else, and you will not be surprised to learn that they are all white and male. And, in case you were wondering, there are no black people in the senior ranks of the CPS.
When you consider the performance markings which are essential for promotion, white staff are twice as likely than black staff to reach the required rating. You can hardly say there are not enough ethnic minority staff to choose from - in London a quarter of the staff are black or Asian.
You may ask what difference does it make to the service the CPS provides? But did you know the CPS failed to bring racial factors to the court's attention in one out of 10 cases where it should have? Or that a lot of staff wanted to get rid of the racial incident monitoring scheme because it involved too much paperwork! So much for Macpherson and his report.
Calvert-Smith said: "I have lived here all my life and so I do not know what it is like to be an ethnic minority." Well, guess what - over half of young ethnic minorities were born here, Mr DPP, sir. I think you need to own up to institutional racism before you can, as you put it, "give a lead to the criminal justice system".
The author wishes to remain anonymous.