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.




Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

SENDING MAGISTRATES OUT TO PASTURE



In the rush for so called equality over the last decade or two it seems sometimes that numbers overwhelm science.  By numbers I refer to age requirements for certain activities or imposed restrictions until a certain age is attained; eg a firearms license minimum age is 18, voting in the forthcoming election requires a minimum age of 18 but 16 year olds were granted that privilege for the Scottish Referendum. 16 is minimum age law recognises for consensual sexual activity:  marriage in England has a minimum age of 16 with parental consent but the other partner must be 18 or older whereas in Scotland 16 year olds can be married without parental consent.  Boy soldiers cannot be sent to a war zone until they are 18 by which time they have been driving for a year. These are only a few demonstrable age related restrictions on activities. It is apparent that there is little scientific basis on which these are restrictions are made.  They are in other words arbitrary.  Indeed as arbitrary as my and my colleagues being forced to retire from the bench at 70; a matter which is currently receiving the attention of   the Equality Advisory Support Service.  But at the other end of the scale is the fact that Justices of the Peace can be appointed*  from the age of 18.  They have to show:-
  • Good character;
  • Understanding and communication;
  • Social awareness;
  • Maturity and sound temperament;
  • Sound judgement;
  • Commitment and reliability.
It has been shown without much doubt that the human brain takes longer to reach full maturity than was otherwise thought even twenty years ago.  Some researchers are suggesting that that process continues even into the thirties.  The one single facet of human behaviour that has existed throughout the ages is wisdom associated with age.  And the reason is very simple; in times gone by the tribal elder had an accumulation of knowledge and experience which only a long healthy life could give.  Bearing all that in mind my question is how can a 22 year old have all the attributes needed to be judge and jury over the actions of his fellow citizens, their consequences and the resulting sanctions.  IMHO it is not possible notwithstanding the outstanding qualities of any candidate.  But I am unlikely not to be  a voice in the wilderness.  Prevailing political thought processes require equality, equality, equality irrespective of all the diversity amongst us.  Indeed there is not even a requirement that a J.P. must be a British citizen. 

The person who has allowed his appointment* to be headlines in the local paper has made or has had it made for him his first error of judgement.  In due course he will learn that his newly found calling will mark him and his colleagues as pawns in the policy of any government which is heading J.P.s into a pasture where they can serve out of the courts environment.  He will not be sitting in the courts for 48 years.
                                       ..........................................................

*Instructions for completion and return of this form

Please complete all relevant sections of the form.  Failure to do so could lead to your application being rejected.

Where applicable, click on the relevant box to place a cross in that box.
Where text is required, type your answers into the form fields. These will expand as you type
until they fill the box. Please use Arial font size 11. 
If a question does not apply to you, please mark it N/A (not applicable). Do not leave the space blank.
Completion of Appendix A (Diversity Monitoring Form) is not mandatory.
Completion of Appendix B (Referees) is mandatory.

Please send your completed application to the relevant advisory committee by email or post. If sending by post, please ensure the printed copy is fully legible and do not send photocopies. 

Contact the advisory committee if you have any questions about completing your application. 

A list of advisory committees and contact details can be found at Appendix A of Becoming a Magistrate in England and Wales – Guidance for Prospective Applicants (link below).

You should find it helpful to have a copy of the Guidance with you when you complete your application.

 







This document is produced and maintained by:
Magistrates HR
Judicial Office
10th Floor, Thomas More Building
Royal Courts of Justice
Strand
London
WC2A 2LL

1.   PRE-APPLICATION CHECKLIST
Please read the booklet ‘Becoming a Magistrate in England and Wales – Guidance for Prospective Applicants’ in full before starting your application.
You must complete the following checklist before submitting your application.  If you do not complete the checklist, your application is liable to be rejected. 
I have read the Guidance for Prospective Applicants in full.
I have checked to ensure that recruitment is taking place in my local area.
Refer to page 5 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
I understand that applicants are expected to be living or working in, or reasonably close to, the area in which they wish to serve.
Refer to page 5 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
I understand that, if called for interview, I will be required to demonstrate that I have a good knowledge and understanding of social issues in the local area, in particular the causes and effects of crime.
Refer to pages 5 and 14 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
I understand that magistrates are required to sit for at least 13 full days per year (or 26 half days).  I also understand that I will be required to attend training and occasional meetings after court.  I confirm that I am able to meet this commitment. 
Refer to page 8 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
I am in employment and have obtained my employer’s agreement to take the necessary time off work if I am appointed.
Refer to page 9 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.  (Leave blank if not in employment and see below)
I am not in employment.
I have undertaken at least one visit to a magistrates’ court in the six months prior to making my application.
Refer to page 9 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
The people I intend to nominate as referees have agreed to provide a reference and I understand that if references are not provided by the required date my application could be rejected.
Refer to page 13 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.



2.   PRELIMINARY INFORMATION

Applicants are expected to be living or working in, or reasonably close to, the area in which they wish to serve. 

Refer to page 5 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Please state the name of the advisory committee whose recruitment exercise you are applying for:
Advisory Committee
     

If you have a preference to sit at a particular magistrates’ court (or courts) within the local area, indicate them below.  Please note that we cannot guarantee to meet your preference(s):
Preferred court(s)
     
     
     

How did you become aware of the vacancies for which you are applying?
     

Only answer the next question if you are applying for vacancies in Wales.

Refer to page 12 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

If the area to which you are applying has vacancies for bilingual magistrates, please indicate below if you would like to be considered for those vacancies:
  Yes
  No

All applicants must have visited a magistrates’ court to observe the proceedings, at least once, preferably two or three times, before submitting an application.

Refer to page 9 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Please provide the names of the courts you have visited in connection with your application and the dates of your visits.
Name of magistrates’ court
     
Date
D       M      Year         
Name of magistrates’ court
     
Date
D       M      Year         
Name of magistrates’ court
     
Date
D       M      Year         

We need to know if you have previously applied to become a magistrate.

Refer to page 10 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.


Have you previously applied to become a magistrate?
  Yes
  No

If you answered yes, please give details of when you made your application, to which advisory committee, and the outcome of your application.
     


The Magistrates’ Association represents approximately 80% of magistrates in England and Wales. Information about the Magistrates’ Association is available at:  www.magistrates-association.org.uk/

If you are appointed, may we pass your details (name, address, date of birth and local justice area) to the Magistrates’ Association, so that they can contact you about the Association and about training?
  Yes
  No

Your details will not be disclosed without your permission and will not be passed to any other organisation.

3.   PERSONAL INFORMATION

                      

  Mr
  Miss
  Ms
  Mrs
  Dr

  Other (please state)
     
Surname
     
Forename(s)
     
Previous surname (if any)
     
Date of birth
D       M      Year         
Home address (including post code)
     
     
     
     
     
     
Telephone
Home       
Work        
Mobile      
Contact email
     
Nationality
     
Country of birth
     
     


4.   DIVERSITY MONITORING INFORMATION

Please refer to Appendix A below.








5.   QUALIFICATIONS

No formal qualifications are required to become a magistrate.  This information is requested to give some background about applicants. It will not be taken into account in assessing suitability for appointment. 

Provide a brief summary of your educational and any other significant qualifications (e.g. professional qualifications):
     

6.   EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Certain occupations (including past occupations) may affect your eligibility to serve as a magistrate. 

Refer to page 8 and Appendix D of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Please provide full information about your employment status and history:
Employment status 
  Employed
  Self-employed
  Retired
  Not in paid employment
  Other (please state)
     
Current occupation (if applicable)
     
Brief description of work
     
Time with employer
     
Is the role?
 Full Time
  Part Time
   Hours per week
  Fixed Term (end date)
D       M      Year         









Please confirm that you have discussed your intention to apply to become a magistrate with your employer and have their agreement to take the necessary time off work if you are appointed.
     


Please give details of any other occupations in which you have been employed in the last ten years, starting with the most recent:
Occupation
Employer
From
To
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

In limited cases, the occupation of a spouse, partner or close relative may affect your eligibility.
Refer to page 8 and Appendix D of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.
Is your spouse/partner in any form of employment?
  Yes (Please state their occupation)
     
  No
 Not applicable



Has your spouse, partner or a close relative worked as any of the following - Police Officer, Special Constable, Police Community Support Officer, civilian employee of a police force, Traffic Warden, Crown Prosecution Service or Prison Service employee, or in any other occupation whose work involves attending court?
   Yes (see below)
  No
 Not applicable

If you answered yes above, please describe the person’s (or persons’) relationship to you, their occupation, where it is (or was) carried out, and their approximate dates of employment:
  
     



7.   REFERENCES

All applicants must provide the names of three people who have agreed to act as referees.  Please complete Appendix B below.
Refer to page 13 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.


8.   REASONS FOR APPLYING TO BECOME A MAGISTRATE AND PERSONAL QUALITIES

Please explain what motivated you to apply to become a magistrate:
     

The six key qualities required of all magistrates are: Good Character; Understanding and Communication; Social Awareness; Maturity and Sound Temperament; Sound Judgement; Commitment and Reliability.

Refer to Appendix C of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Please explain how you believe you meet the six key qualities.  If possible, give examples of how you have demonstrated these qualities through your work and/or in other areas of your life: 
     

Please provide a brief description of any voluntary work you are currently doing or have done in the past:
  
     

Please provide a brief description of any hobbies / recreational activities in your spare time:
     



9.   CONVICTIONS AND ORDERS
 
The Senior Presiding Judge will not appoint anyone in whom the public would be unlikely to have confidence.

A civil matter or a minor criminal matter in the past will not necessarily disqualify you from appointment. 

If your application is successful, the Disclosure and Barring Service will carry out an enhanced level criminal record check on you.

You must disclose all relevant matters, including motoring offences, on your application form.  When disclosing motoring offences include the number of penalty points and the amount of any fine. 

Refer to pages 6 and 7 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence?
  Yes (see below)
  No

If you answered yes above, please provide full information below. You must disclose all relevant matters, regardless of when they occurred: 
Offence
Conviction, Penalty or Order
Court
Date of Conviction
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Provide details of any civil proceedings to which you, or any company of which you are director, have been a party. Include details of any bankruptcy and/or maintenance orders, whether against you or in your favour:
  
Nature of Proceedings
Order
Court
Date of Order
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

Are you currently involved in any form of legal proceedings; for example as a party to the proceedings or as a witness?
  Yes (see below)
  No

If you answered yes above, please describe the nature of the proceedings and your involvement:
  
     

Excluding any information provided above, is there anything in your private or working life, past or present, which could damage your credibility as a magistrate if it became known to the public?
  Yes (see below)
  No
If you answered yes above, please provide further information:
  
     


10.       DECLARATION

The information that I have given in this application is true and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that my application is liable to be rejected if I knowingly fail to disclose relevant information in my application. 
(Please sign electronically or by hand).

   
Signed:
       
Date:
       






Completion of this Appendix is not mandatory.  However, your response would be appreciated.

This data helps advisory committees to assess the effectiveness of recruitment strategies and aids the identification of patterns and trends in judicial diversity.

Statistical data is published annually on the judiciary website*; for example to show the proportion of magistrates from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.  The information is published in generalised form only – the personal details of individuals are never published. 

The information provided in this Appendix is not taken into account in assessing suitability for appointment. 

 

Gender

What is your gender?                Male   Female      I prefer not to answer this question.
 

Age

 Under 25   25-30         31-35         36-40         41-45         46-50         51-55
 56-60         61-65         Over 65      I prefer not to answer this question.
           
 

Ethnicity

I would describe my ethnic origin as: (please tick one box with which you most identify)

White
 British (or one of the following)

 English      Scottish     Welsh
 Northern Irish



 Other (please specify)
     

 Irish
 Gypsy or Irish Traveller

 Any other White background (please specify)
     


Mixed/multiple ethnic backgrounds
 White and
Black Caribbean
 White and
Black African

 White and Asian

 Any other mixed background (please specify)
     


Asian/Asian British
 Indian
 Chinese
 Pakistani
 Bangladeshi


 Any other Asian background (please specify)
     


Black/ African/ Caribbean Black British
 Caribbean
 African


 Any other Black background (please specify)
     


Other Ethnic Group
 Arab



 Any other ethnic group
     (please specify)
     







                                              I prefer not to answer this question.      
 

Disability
Do you have a disability?     Yes            No              I prefer not to answer this question.   













APPENDIX B – REFEREES

You should give details of three referees who have known you for at least three years. 

Refer to page 13 of the Guidance for Prospective Applicants.

Applicants in Wales only
If you have signified that you wish to be considered for a Welsh-essential vacancy, please write below the corresponding number of the referee (from referees 1 to 3) who would be prepared to confirm that you are sufficiently fluent in Welsh to be considered for these posts. (Additional guidance about this requirement will be provided to your nominated referee.)

     
Referee 1

   
Title
  Mr
  Miss
  Ms
  Mrs
  Dr

  Other (please state)
     
Surname
     
Forename
     
Address (including post code)
     
     
     
     
     
     
Contact Telephone
     
Contact Email
     
Occupation (if any)
     

Referee 2

   
Title
  Mr
  Miss
  Ms
  Mrs
  Dr

  Other (please state)
     
Surname
     
Forename
     
Address (including post code)
     
     
     
     
     
     
Contact Telephone
     
Contact Email
     
Occupation (if any)
     

Referee 3

Title
  Mr
  Miss
  Ms
  Mrs
  Dr

  Other (please state)
     
Surname
     
Forename
     
Address (including post code)
     
     
     
     
     
     
Contact Telephone
     
Contact Email
     
Occupation (if any)
     












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