HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc694-6W
Angela Eagle

To ask the Solicitor-General what progress has been made in her Department and non-departmental public bodies on implementing the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000; and if she will publish the results of the monitoring required by the Act. [117618]

The Solicitor-General

[holding answer 20 June 2003]: The Crown Prosecution Service has made considerable progress on the implementation of their Race Equality Scheme to comply with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

The Crown Prosecution Service Race Equality Scheme was published and launched on May 2002. It is a three-year plan, which applies to all existing and future functions and policies developed by the Crown Prosecution Service. To comply with the Act, and action plans must be reviewed within three years. However, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided to review and publish updates on its Race Equality Scheme progress annually. The first update (Year One—Crown Prosecution Service Update 2002–03) is to be published shortly and will be available on the Crown Prosecution internet and internal intranet.

An impact assessment form has been produced in consultation with the Commission for Racial Equality. The impact assessment form will be used to evaluate all policies and functions.

The Equality and Diversity Unit has overseen the day-to-day delivery of the scheme, which has been reviewed on a regular basis by the Senior Managers Advisory Group on Diversity. The Crown Prosecution Service Board has also assessed progress annually.

Training on the Race Equality Scheme for policy makers and key staff is due to be rolled out in July 2003. This will ensure that staff are aware of the Racial Equality Scheme and their duty under it. Training will also be given in how to complete the impact assessment forms to ensure that all local policies that do not fall under the banner of national policies comply with the Act and the Crown Prosecution Service Racial Equality Scheme.

In relation to monitoring as stated by the Act, the Crown Prosecution Service is continuing to monitor employment statistics. These are available publicly in the Year One review.

With regards to the monitoring of prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service has made a good start with a view to extending monitoring via the forthcoming new IT system. All national policies and functions have been reviewed and new policies have been written. A Public Policy Statement on Racially and Religiously Aggravated Crime has been written which has set up monitoring systems. It is due to be launched on 14 July 2003 by the Attorney-General.

The Serious Fraud Office has made significant efforts to meet the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, especially in encouraging a positive approach to diversity issues and other employment practices. Its full Race Equality Scheme has yet to be published and it is working with the Commission for Racial Equality to complete this task as fully and as quickly as possible.

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate attaches considerable importance to the principles of equality and diversity, both in relation to the inspection process and the management of HM Crown Prosecution Service itself.

Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Inspectorate has a general duty to promote race equality and the specific duty to set out and publish a Race Equality Scheme.

In May 2002, the Inspectorate published its Race Equality Scheme drawn up in accordance with the provisions of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. The Scheme sets out the steps to be taken to ensure that its functions, policies and employment systems eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good relations between persons of different racial groups.

The Scheme also includes the specific duty in relation to employment issues which require HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspect orate to monitor the staff in post and applications for employment, promoting and training by their racial group. In fact, the Inspectorate has gone further by including gender, disability and age.

The statistics are currently being compiled for the period ending 31 March 2003 and will be available shortly.

HM Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with the Commission for Racial Equality and other inspectorates in developing an inspection framework to underpin consistent and effective scrutiny of how inspected bodies are discharging their statutory functions under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. It has been incorporated with appropriate adaptations into the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate methodology.

The Treasury Solicitor's Department, including the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, published its Scheme to Promote Racial Equality in May 2002, in accordance with the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. The Scheme is overseen by the Department's Diversity Group, which ensures equal opportunities good practice is upheld and monitored in the Agency, and which is currently in the process of carrying out a review of the Scheme one year after its launch, including employment targets.

As a result of the Scheme so far, training in telephone technique has been undertaken by Bona Vacantia Division, to ensure race equality in dealing with public callers, some of whom do not speak English as a first language or understand English law or customs. The Diversity Group has also overseen an audit of external administrative recruitment since 2001 and made recommendations on monitoring. Details of employment monitoring will be published shortly, and thereafter each April and October.

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