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Our National Independent Advisory Group merges with Action for Race Equality

Today (Wednesday 18th October), we announce that the National Independent Advisory Group (NIAG) will be wrapping up its criminal justice activities under the EQUAL brand.

The announcement comes after 5 years of EQUAL’s work influencing policy-change across policing, prisons, probation and the youth justice system.

Following an independent review of EQUAL in 2021, a decision was made to merge the work of the NIAG under Action for Race Equality’s branding and criminal justice activities. 

Jeremy Crook OBE, CEO of Action for Race Equality commented:  

An independent review conducted in 2021 into EQUAL and [ARE's] criminal justice activities found that Black and Asian-led organisations should have a greater voice at the national level and especially on ARE’s criminal justice direction. We are now addressing this in our own network by identifying and working more closely with organisations previously involved in EQUAL. 

The review also found there was confusion between EQUAL and ARE. EQUAL is an initiative and not an organisation, and we can see why this confusion arose with our stakeholders and the public. 

The NIAG will remain a tremendous policy resource, and we value the expertise and commitment of the members. We will continue to support the NIAG whilst strengthening our links with grassroots organisations.

The NIAG was first set up nearly a decade ago in 2014 by our secretariat Action for Race Equality (formerly known as the Black Training and Enterprise Group), to tackle race inequality in the criminal justice system. It was first called the Young Review Independent Advisory Group.

Neena Samota, Senior Lecturer and Director of Criminology at St Mary’s University Twickenham, has long been involved in EQUAL and the National Independent Advisory Group. She said:

I have been on the advisory group for EQUAL and, before that, on the Young Review. Both groups were facilitated by Action for Race Equality and much has been accomplished in influencing policy change in relation to prisons, probation and youth justice. Since 2014, ARE (then the Black Training and Enterprise Group) has aimed to address racial disparity in criminal justice by building collective capacity in bringing together stakeholders from the voluntary and community sector, statutory sector, academia and funders.  This has helped to turn knowledge held collectively by our communities into meaningful action when it comes to policy change across criminal justice. ARE continues to play a key role in bridging the gap between Black and minoritised communities and policy makers, presenting opportunities for policy reform, and stimulating community involvement on issues of crime, victimisation, and criminal justice.”

Jess Mullen, former EQUAL national independent advisory group member and co-author of the ‘Young Review: Improving outcomes for young Black and Muslim men report‘ said:

The influencing undertaken by EQUAL and its precursor the Young Review, has been essential in putting and keeping race inequality in the criminal justice system on the policy agenda. 

ARE’s renewed focus on achieving positive change, alongside the voices of organisations led by and focused on racially minoritised people in the criminal justice system, is all the more important at a time when government is failing to prioritise race equality despite the disproportionate numbers and unequal outcomes for racially minoritised people in the care of the criminal justice system persisting.

We would like to thank all our members, and our funders, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Esmee Fairbairn and Lankelly Chase, for making possible our work over the years. If you've worked with us and would like to share your story/experience, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch: 

EQUAL's website and social media pages will remain live for a short while for archive/reference purposes, but updates will now come from and ARE's Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.


"We’d like to thank everyone who has been involved in EQUAL over the years.   Rest assured, our presence and legacy will remain in Action for Race Equality’s renewed drive to tackle racism in the criminal justice system". With funder logos at bottom

Action for Race Equality is now inviting new members to join the NIAG.

As the NIAG approaches its 10-year anniversary, ARE hopes to welcome three new members to the advisory group to help continue its work to tackle racism in the criminal justice system.

There is no strict eligibility criteria to become a member of the NIAG, however applicants must be able to demonstrate work done that positively impacts Black, Asian, Mixed heritage, Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and Muslim people and communities.

If you are interested in joining the NIAG, please send an expression of interest to by November 17th. This should include:

Your name and your organisation's name​

  • A link to your website ​or relevant material 
  • No more than 400 words about why you would like to join the NIAG.
  • We aim to respond to all applicants with decisions by December 1st.

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