14 Apr 2023
Report reveals impacts of gambling-related harm on ethnic minority communities
The first research report in the UK to address the lived experiences of crime and gambling-related harms for people within ethnic minority communities is published today (Friday 14 April) by the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms.
The report considers evidence gathered from interviews with people with lived experience of gambling and crime, key stakeholders from organisations concerned with these issues, and focus groups held inside a Category B men’s prison.
The research reveals that there are many different pathways into gambling and gambling-related harm for people within ethnic minority communities, such as: growing up around gambling; migrating to the UK and the role of acculturation; the role of gambling as a means of hope (in relation to addressing socio-economic disadvantage); and escapism from their wider lives.
But the findings also highlight a lack of understanding of the issue within the criminal justice system. Participants spoke about the inadequate provision of support for people at every stage of the system – arrest, prosecution, sentencing and afterwards.
Co-produced by a team comprising people with lived experience of crime and gambling, academics from Coventry University, Lancaster University and Brunel University London, and colleagues from Betknowmore UK and We Fight Fraud, this is the last in a series of research reports published by the Commission, which was set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2019.
Chaired by Lord Peter Goldsmith KC, the Commission has been investigating the links between crime and gambling-related harms, what impact they have on communities and wider society, and what steps could be taken to reduce crime and make people safer.
The Commission will deliver its recommendations in a final report to be published later this month.
Lord Goldsmith KC, Chair of the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms, said: “The experiences of people from ethnic minority communities in relation to gambling, gambling-related harms and crime have been overlooked for too long. Through collaboration and co-production, this report amplifies their voices and highlights significant gaps in research and awareness.
“The findings from this study provide unique insight into how the inequalities and social, economic and cultural factors faced by people in ethnic minority communities critically impact their relationships with gambling and their experiences of gambling-related harms and crime.
“But they also draw further attention to a common theme that we have seen in other research projects undertaken for the Commission – a lack of understanding and action at all stages of the criminal justice system. We are grateful to all participants for their contribution in bringing these issues to light.”
Steven Nyandu, from Community Outreach Development at Betknowmore UK, said: “It has been a great pleasure to work with a group of people that have been part of a mission to highlight the issues around crime and gambling amongst ethnic groups. I had the opportunity to learn about how culture and stigma plays a massive role in attitudes towards gambling and the social barriers which prevent people from accessing support.
“Working in prisons in the past and trying to help people from all walks of life that have been incarcerated due to gambling harms allowed me to bring further insight on different ways we can tackle this issue. I hope to continue being part of this extremely important mission.”
Sixteen people with lived experience took part in the research, three of whom were peer researchers. Interviews were also conducted with ten key stakeholders from organisations concerned with gambling and/or crime, four of whom disclosed that they had lived experience of crime and gambling-related harm. Eighteen interviews were conducted with participants and peer researchers and two focus groups were conducted inside a Category B men’s prison with eight serving prisoners.
The research centres the importance of recognising that ethnic minority communities are diverse and that there is no single ethnic minority experience. But the data also highlights the importance of understanding how systemic inequalities shape lived experiences. Factors such as race, ethnicity, class, culture, religion, migration, immigration status, mental health and gender were critical in people’s experiences of gambling, crime, and the criminal justice system, as well as gambling treatment and support services.
The report reveals a range of pathways into gambling and gambling-related harm. Participants to the study had diverse accounts of their own journeys to gambling, with some growing up around gambling as a ‘normal’ activity in their family or peer group, whereas for others it was culturally forbidden. The report details how these pathways into gambling were often related to wider experiences of trauma and stress, with some participants viewing gambling as a normalised response to structural, social, and economic disadvantage.
Participants disclosed having committed a range of offences relating to gambling, including financial crimes and those relating to public disorder and drugs. Ten participants had come to the attention of the criminal justice system, but a significant number of ‘hidden crimes’ were also revealed, such as theft from family members, domestic abuse, associated addictions, and legal issues relating to immigration.
The report reveals a lack of understanding of gambling-related harm and inadequate provision of support in the criminal justice system. At all stages (i.e. arrest, prosecution, sentencing and under sentence) participants reported that their gambling was not adequately considered. Some explained how prison environments limited some people’s ability to gamble but posed risks for others, due to ‘social’ gambling activities such as card games and dominoes. Participants described release from prison as a missed opportunity to support a gambling addiction, and that this lack of support continued in the community.
The research found that understanding the needs and issues for people from ethnic minority communities in relation to disordered gambling was problematic, as insufficient data exists to provide information to shape and commission services and support. Participants identified a preference for the involvement of people from ethnic minority communities in the shaping and delivery of these services. Many indicated that they found services to be more useful where they felt they had shared understandings with staff, not only in relation to gambling, but also in relation to their wider cultural experiences and backgrounds.
The report calls for further, intersectional research about gambling-related harms and gambling and crime, and greater awareness within ethnic minority communities and among key societal institutions. The findings also highlight the need for mandatory screening for gambling-related harms across the criminal justice system, and a critical need for clearer national and local strategies in relation to ethnic minority communities and their experiences.
Notes to editors
- The Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms (formerly known as the Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling) was launched in 2019 and is chaired by Lord Peter Goldsmith QC. He leads a team of academics and professionals with expertise in the criminal justice system and public health, as well as experts with knowledge of the gambling industry and with lived experience of addiction.
- The Lived experiences of gambling, gambling-related harms, and crime within ethnic minority communities report can be read at: https://howardleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/Howard-League_Summary_Lived-experiences-of-gambling-gambling-related-harms-and-crime-within-ethnic-minority-communities_Commission-on-Crime-and-Gambling-Related-Harms_April-2023.pdf
- The report was written on behalf of the study team by Dr Geraldine Brown (Coventry University), Dr Nicola Harding (Lancaster University) and Dr Julie Trebilcock (Brunel University London). Betknowmore UK is a leading provider of gambling support and training services. More information about the study and the team behind the report can be found at: https://howardleague.org/commission-on-crime-and-problem-gambling/research-commissions/research-commission-ethnic-minority-communities/
- More information about the Commission and its work can be found at: https://howardleague.org/commission-on-crime-and-problem-gambling/
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