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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.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, 5 July 2017
ETHNIC DIVERSITY//THE FAKE NEWS ON THE MAGISTRACY
Penelope Gibbs, a former magistrate and director of the organisation Transform Justice, says: “However good they are, we need magistrates to be truly representative of the communities they serve if trust in the criminal justice system is to be maintained. We don’t have enough BAME magistrates, and those we have are overwhelmingly middle-class and middle-aged. Where are the magistrates from the Somali, Roma and Romanian communities? Nowhere to be seen.”
The pusillanimous final two sentences sum up quite elegantly the type of reasoning put forward to pursue this so called argument. In order to serve judgement upon one`s fellow man [for the politically correct baggage followers the term embraces woman] for a start a high quality of use and understanding of the English language is required. Arabic speaking Somalis who are here have generally been refugees from a brutal dictatorship over the last two decades. Perhaps the second generation might emerge in the next decade who would be able to satisfy the requirements of appointment. They would be treated by appointment committees on their merits just as every would be magistrate has been, is and will be without regard to ethnicity. Roma by their very culture are not citizens living in a fixed locality although there are exceptions of course. The writer quoted above has nothing but invective to shout about in line with her political cause. Romanians in this country are by study generally manual workers with ultimate intentions to return to their country of origin. I am, incidentally, of the opinion that the current rules on appointment to the magistracy which do not require British citizenship, require re-assessment.
Be careful what you wish for. That hackneyed phrase could come back to haunt Penelope Gibbs, her acolytes and those funding her. There is no doubt in my mind that government generally would be happy to see the function of lay magistrates reduced to only presiding over simple offending eg TV licensing sitting in a back office a hundred miles removed from any courtroom. The day is not so far away when non locally affiliated single district judges will rule supreme in every courtroom. Perhaps after so called ethnicity comparisons of their middle aged white composition leads to some disquiet she will rue the time bemoaning a dearth of a bench which reflected, warts and all, the population of towns and boroughs in England. I personally think warts should be removed from the face of justice not excluding judges, lawyers, police when warts include those unfit irrespective of race, creed, religion, colour perceptions or so called ethnic diversity. If positive discrimination is at the heart of the argument let it be made openly. That would be an honest subject of debate.
The table below might be of some interest