Modern Studies - Rule of Law/Equality

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Q. The principle of equality continues to underpin the rule of law in the UK. Discuss.
The two principles that are to underpin the rule of law in the UK are equality and democracy. Equality means that every citizen deserves the same treatment and opportunities never mind their race, wealth, social class, gender, sexual orientation or health. There is a lot of discussion as to whether the UK is a fair and equal country and from the sources that I have been researching from it seems that either spectrum of the argument has valuable statistics. The UK is technically a democracy because of our regular election, large range of political parties and a Welfare State that provides for everyone who needs it but proving how equal a nation we truly are is a difficult task.

There is much evidence to suggest that ethnic minority’s progress within the UK shows that equality is not a principle which is being met. The Telegraph reported that the Macpherson Report – which stated that the Metropolitan police force were ‘institutionally racist’ - recommended that the Metropolitan police force filled at least 25% with ethnic minority officers; however the figure still stands at around 9.6%. This does not reflect the demographic of London very well as currently 29% of Londoners are non-White, this should be shown in the number of minority police officers but it is not so this suggests that the Metropolitan police force need to address the racial under-representation within the ranks.

There is also the issue that ethnic minority’s are more likely to be poor that any other group. Two fifths of ethnic minority’s live in low income households, and the employment rate for ethnic minority’s is around 62%. This means that ethnic minority’s are less likely to be able to afford very good legal representation which could highly affect the accused person’s chance of being acquitted or getting a lesser sentence. Whites who are ‘better-off’ are going to be more likely to afford a top lawyer who can get reduced sentences and negotiate which the judge far better then the less-experienced lawyer that the poorer person could afford.

The Police and Racism report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission states that even a decade after the Lawrence Inquiry Report – this was set up after the death of Stephan Lawrence that was jeopardised by police officers as they concealed evidence to stop people being prosecuted – Blacks are still seven times more likely to be stopped by police than Whites. This is obvious prejudice by the police force and shows that although there has been progress with race relations many police officers still discriminate even if they are given no reason to believe that these Blacks are participating in criminal activity.

Racism has obviously improved within the UK since the anti-discrimination laws however there are still a significant amount of people in Britain who still hold prejudice views. A poll by OnePoll (reported on by Mail Online) showed that one in three UK citizens (33%) admit to holding racist views. This is a huge amount of people in a seemingly liberal society and indicates that a lot of these people are likely to be police officers or members of the jury. This can directly affect how a person is convicted of a crime as someone with strong prejudice against ethnic minority’s may be inclined to charge the person whether there is sufficient evidence or not. This clearly shows that equality is not underpinning the rule of law in the UK as we still have a lot of problems with discrimination and a lack of ethnic progress within the top ranks of the police force.

Also, there is much evidence to suggest that equality is not being met when is comes to gender issues in the UK. Females make up 51% of the UK population however they only account for 26.8% of the police force (in England and Wales). This is a lot of under-representation for women in the police force and is a serious issue in the UK as our police...
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