Legal System Should Tackle Discrimination In Profession Through Training

UK barrister mistaken for defendant calls for compulsory anti-racism training
Alexandra Wilson/Picture credit: The Guardian

The legal system in the UK should come up with measures to address the issue of discrimination in profession, a barrister suggested.

After being mistaken for a defendant a couple of times in one day, Alexandra Wilson called for a compulsory anti-racism training at all levels of the legal system. She issued a complaint on Wednesday following the incident.

The barrister who specialises in criminal and family cases expressed how she was exasperated by the incident on Twitter. The head of courts services in England and Wales apologised after her tweets virally-mediated.

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Lawyers from other black and minority backgrounds who had similar experiences reacted to her tweets and described how they were similarly frustrated. Wilson highlighted that the constant occurrence of such events shows the inadequacy of the current training in the legal system.

She said that the lack of training in the legal system has contributed to so much disrespect of the BAME people. Wilson spoke of how she was shouted at and told to leave the room if she had no one representing her, yet she is also a barrister.

“If a barrister is treated like that, you wonder how a defendant’s going to be treated, and whether the defendant is going to be treated fairly. There needs to be more and better training. If there is training already for staff, it’s clearly not going far enough,” she said.

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“I don’t think it’s enough any more to say, ‘I don’t have racist views and therefore I’m not racist.’ I think we actually have to be consciously fighting racism.”

In the previous week, a report was made to the Ministry of Justice which revealed that people from a BAME background are “over-represented” in applications for judicial appointment”  but are “less likely to be successful”.

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4 months ago

[…] found that most of the disparities we examined, which some attribute to racial discrimination, often do not have their origins in racism,” the report […]