Campaign seeks to recruit 4,000 lay magistrates in England and Wales

Adults in 영국 and Wales are being encouraged to apply online via “a revised, streamlined recruitment process” to become a lay magistrate, in an effort to tackle a backlog of criminal cases caused by the pandemic.

A week after announcing plans to double the maximum sentence that magistrates can pass to a year, 도미닉 라브, the justice secretary, said the judiciary would recruit another 4,000.

It will be the largest recruitment effort in the 650-year history of the magistracy, the Ministry of Justice said.

Courts in England and 웨일즈 have been struggling to clear a backlog of cases. As of November, 372,000 cases were outstanding in the magistrates courts and a further 58,728 in the crown court system.

The number of magistrates has plummeted in the past decade, ...에서 25,170 에 2012 ...에 12,651, according to the most recent figures last year.

The MoJ said it was investing £1m in the recruitment campaign, which would attempt to reach potential recruits “from teachers to bricklayers, to stay-at-home mums” and would seek to “make the magistracy more representative of the communities it serves”. The campaign would specifically target younger people, 그것은 말했다.

Unpaid volunteer magistrates sit for at least 13 days a year, hearing family and criminal cases from their local community. As of last April, just over eight in 10 were over 50, 과 56% were women. 에 따르면 2018 추정, 13% are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background, 에 비해 13.8% of the UK population. The largest proportion of minority ethnic magistrates were from an Asian background, at 7%; 4% were black and 1% were mixed.

Statistics on the intersection of gender and ethnicity groups in the magistracy were not available.

“Magistrates are the unsung heroes of the justice system and we want people from every part of society represented in their ranks,” Raab said. “Alongside our plans to double their sentencing powers from six months to a year, this recruitment drive will ensure magistrates can play an even greater role in restoring the swift justice the public deserve.”

Bev Higgs, the national chair of the Magistrates’ Association, 말했다: “The Magistrates’ Association is pleased to support this recruitment campaign and would encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to contribute their lived experience, knowledge and commitment to the judiciary.

“It is vitally important that magistrates courts reflect their local communities, and we welcome all who join us in this unique and very rewarding role.”

But not all lawyers welcomed the plans. One leading criminal lawyer, 라지 차다, of Hodge Jones Allen, 말했다: “In a post-pandemic world where job insecurity is even more pronounced, few can take time from their job to become lay magistrates. Those that do tend to be better off, older or retired and white. This creates the perception of an officer class, pronouncing judgment on those of a different class. It is hardly going to increase confidence in the criminal justice system.”

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