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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Friday, 5 February 2016

NEW FOR OLD MAGISTRATES


It is a well known fact that Justices of the Peace are hardly spring chickens.  In fact taking the analogy a bit further a large number is but one slippery foot from the slaughter house.  The members of the bench in Cambridgeshire are no exception.  At the last count in April 2015 there were 206 worthy members of whom 126 were aged over 60.  It is not unlikely that in the ten months since then many more will have retired. It seems therefore that approval has been given for the recruitment of 200 additional  civic minded citizens to join the bench.  This seems to be ludicrous.  What business or organisation would wish to double its number of specialists in one fell swoop of recruitment?  No doubt those clever people in the Ministry of Justice who have been so pre occupied in closing courts and decimating the CPS over the last five years were too busy to consider the effects of a rapidly ageing work force.  My opinion and that of most J.P.s is that it takes about five years to consider a magistrate "experienced".  Those 200 initiates will have to be mentored officially and unofficially by a reducing core of "experienced" colleagues in addition to official training from HMCTS.  To quote from Transform Justice`s 2014 Report on magistrates` training; " In 2008/9 HMCTS spent £3.2 million on magistrates’training. In 2013/14 they spent £559,000. When combined with spend by the Judicial College this equates to a reduction in spend from £110 per magistrate in 2008/9, to £26 per magistrate in 2013/14."

The age profile country wide is not a lot different from that in Cambridgeshire.  The lowest aged areas have an average age of 58 and the highest age of J.P.s is in Westminster at 65. 

The inability to recruit  new J.P.s in sufficient numbers to replace those retiring and/or the difficulty in providing the necessary  cash for training will be heralded as yet further justification for the need to appoint perhaps another 400 District Judges to further the professionalisation of the lower courts system and for the the initials J.P. to be little more than a decorative title for those who choose to offer their services for out of court activities.

2 comments:

  1. Yet again no mention of the decimation of the Probation Service also taking place under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, which magistrates stood by and watched. Glad to hear about the increase in DJs, more professional and able to deal with the games played by solicitors in court.

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  2. Magistrates are part of the judiciary, not HMCTS. TR is a Government driven change, nothing to do with magistrates or HMCTS. Please tell us what you think magistrates could have done about the changes to the Probation Service

    If you think more DJs are the answer then Justice has lost the plot.

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