U.K. Doubles Down on a Tactic Disproportionately Targeting Black People

That same day, Mr. Lawrence’s mother, Ann-Marie Lawrence, felt so sick that her older son had to drive her home. Once alone, she poured herself a rum and lit a cigarette.

“It’s us mums who are feeling the pain at the end of the day, on both sides,” she said. “But this law, it’s not fair.”

Selam Gebrekidan contributed reporting.

Data and methodology: The New York Times obtained data on homicide prosecutions involving multiple defendants covering the period of 2011 to 2020 from the Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and Ministry of Justice through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests.

The Times’s calculations on the increase in prosecutions is based on Ministry of Justice data on homicide cases — murder, manslaughter, infanticide and causing death by gross breach of duty of care — involving four or more defendants. According to the data, the total number of such cases brought from 2011 to 2015 was 59 (or an average of 11.8 cases per year), while the total number of such cases from 2016 to 2020 was 84 (or an average of 16.8 cases per year).

Calculations of the racial disparity in prosecutions is based on homicide data from the Crown Prosecution Service: conspiracy, attempted murder, causing death of a child or vulnerable adult, child destruction, drunken driving and aiding suicide. According to the data, 32 percent of Black defendants were prosecuted in cases with four or more defendants, compared with nearly 10 percent for white defendants. This puts the relative rate index at 3.39.

None of the agencies provided homicide data broken down by murder and manslaughter offenses, as requested. Reporters checked their calculations with leading data and crime experts in Britain, including Gavin Hales, an associate researcher at the Police Foundation U.K., and Tim Newburn, a criminologist at the London School of Economics.

Reporters supplemented their findings with data that Liberty Investigates, a human rights journalism unit, separately obtained from the Ministry of Justice on murder cases involving more than one defendant.

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