Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Monday, 6 October 2014

MAGISTRATES MIDDLE CLASS?



Many years ago I questioned why the Magistrates` Association could not employ a press officer at least on a part time basis such were its poor PR efforts.  As I recall the answer was that there were more pressing needs for its members` fees.  And that was when there were close to 30,000 members.  Now there are barely 20,000 and even with increased membership fees the treasury must be getting rather bare.  The current chairman has been associated with the upper echelons of the organisation for quite some time and should hold himself partially responsible for current criticisms.  A few days ago he gave an exclusive interview to The Times behind its paywall.  He describes the MA as having been under attack in recent months.  Make that “months” years and the article would have the beginnings of some accuracy as to his comments and to his culpability.  He bleats on about the same old topics of his predecessors but what amused me most was his denial that the magistracy is elderly, middle class and predominantly white.  It is elderly because most younger people of working age or their employers cannot afford an absence from their jobs of  a very minimum of  26  half days  annually sitting in court  plus at least two full days training when they are entering or within the most costly period of their lifespans.   If middle class is a description of  income level or occupation it is not unreasonable to consider somebody with the mental and personality capacities to be a Justice of the Peace to use those faculties in the employment they undertake.  I have known many people described as working class who could have  sat on the bench but were unable to afford the time and hence the loss of income to do so.  The last criticism which he correctly denied  of  there being  a “white” magistracy indicates only too clearly the ignorance of those who make that assumption.  Benches truly reflect the ethnic make up of their regions.   But to return to the term “middle class”; Mr Monkhouse uses his own persona to counter that  allegation above mentioned insofar as he is not middle class because  he says “I am a northerner; I go to football every week.......”



So there you have it from the chairman of the Magistrates Association.   My colleagues south of Watford who spend their Saturdays not watching football........yep......they`re  middle class and conform to the stereotype.

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