Consultation launching on gov.uk will feed into wide-ranging review led by David Lammy.
Offenders, suspects and victims have been urged to share their experience of possible racial bias in the criminal justice system.
The Prime Minister has asked David Lammy MP to lead the review to investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities in England and Wales.
A consultation will be hosted on www.gov.uk until June, with a final report published in spring 2017. The Rt Hon David Lammy MP said:
“We know that there is disproportionate representation in the criminal justice system – the question is why.
“Over the course of the next year my review will search for those answers, starting with an open call for evidence to get to grips with the issues at hand.
“There is clearly an urgent need for progress to be made in this area, and the evidence received through this consultation will be crucial in identifying areas where real change can be achieved.”
Questions in the consultation include why respondents think black defendants are more likely to be found guilty by a jury, face custodial sentences and report a worse experience in prison than white defendants.
Despite making up just 14% of the population of England and Wales, Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals currently make up over a quarter of prisoners.
Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate amount of Crown Court defendants (24%), and those who are found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders (61% compared to 56%).
The review will address issues arising from the CPS involvement onwards – including the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community, to identify areas for reform and examples of good practice from the UK and beyond.