Staff at Outer London's 20 Magistrates Courts are to undergo compulsory training in a bid to improve race relations within the courtroom.
A budget of £10,000 has been set aside for this financial year to fund the cultural sensitivity training sessions, which are designed to make magistrates and support staff more aware of issues such as oath taking for people of different cultures and religions.
Regional training and development officer John Davey said that while he had no specific examples of racism in the Magistrates Court, it was generally accepted that ethnic minorities were not fairly treated.
“There is not as good an understanding of non-white cultures as there is of the white,” said Davey.
“We want black people to feel that not only is justice being done but that it is also being seen to be done.”
Davey launched the scheme at a conference for magistrates and staff last Tuesday.
He promised to adopt a softly-softly approach to the training, which would highlight multi-cultural issues.
“The training will be compulsory but it will not be rammed down the throats of employees,” said Davey.