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 ten years whilst I was active I retain it now only as a literary device no longer actually using the term JP for any other purpose whatsoever.





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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

ARE MAGISTRATES BEING SELECTED BY ETHNIC QUOTA?


Magistrates courts have been around for well over 600 years. Until 2010 one might have used the term ubiquitous when describing their locations. There were around 330 in England and Wales serving the needs of a population both town and country.  And then came Kenneth Clarke as Lord Chancellor of a newly elected Tory government obsessed with the ramifications of the financial crisis.  In that first year Clarke was proud to be the first cabinet member to announce his department`s contribution to the looming deficit; 23.8% was cut from the following year`s budget of the Ministry of Justice. With like minded thinking at the Home Office the whole paraphernalia of all that contributed to the law making and its enforcement in a civilised country was hacked to pieces over the following decade.  The numbers of police and support workers were pared back  to the extent that none ever appeared except when driving past blue lighted.  Prison officers were decimated with many prisons thrown to outsourcers eg Serco and others who cut so many corners with them and their sub contractors trying to force profits from an ever shrinking capital base.  Probation services and others were catastrophically re-organised in 2015 by undoubtedly the worst most reckless and ignorant Secretary of Justice in memory only to be reconstituted by the same Tory government years later. And so to our courts system.   In the year ending March 2019, 5.3 million crimes were recorded by police in England and Wales compared with 3.9 million in 2011/12. The figures are not directly comparable over time as recording practices change although there has evidently been a rise in recorded crime. Over the same period, the number of prosecutions brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) fell by 46%.In 2019/20 the total MoJ budget was around 25% lower than in 2010/11.In 2018/19 there were 5,684 full-time equivalent CPS staff in post compared with 8,094 in 2010/11.Between 2010/11 and 2018/19 criminal legal aid expenditure fell by over a third (35%).   As of April 2010 there were 29,270 magistrates, 143 district judges and 151 deputy district judges operating in the roughly 330 magistrates’ courts throughout England & Wales.There are currently 150 magistrates courts served by 12,333 magistrates and 124 District Judges (MC). The loss of magistrates is due to retirement.  Their age profiles were always well known at the MoJ. The effect of their loss was predictable but government assumed an "all would be right on the night" philosophy with the result that over the last year or so coincident with the Covid pandemic which was a fine alibi for mismanagement the MoJ has been frantic in trying to recruit new bodies to warm the benches of our remaining magistrates courts. Almost every county `s local print media has been bombarding  its readers with pleas to apply for appointment to their local bench. Social media companies have also received their fair share of similar advertising revenue. Common aspect of such advertising is that anyone can apply and particular attention will be given to those of an ethnic minority. The committees overseeing applicants operate in secret.  The basic criteria are available here.  The application form is available at the end of this post. Latest judicial diversity statistics are available below. Unfortunately to publish this whole section magnification could not be larger.  Readers might want to use tool available on their own Windows or Mac system. 


 

With a national BAME figure of 13% of the population the figures above do not seem incompatible.  However there is pressure from assorted sources that composition of the bench must reflect local areas` ethnicity head count.  There are some who would argue that that requirement is, to coin a phrase, ill judged. I do not intend to discuss that in this post.  What I will posit is my opposition to appointment by quota.  We have seen recently the furore over the "taking of the knee" and in particular the accusations that those who oppose this act are by their very opinion; racist. In their eyes I too therefore am branded by this abuse owing to my opposition to such a political act by professional sportsmen (and women). Many will be unaware that at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin in front of hitler the English football team made the nazi "heil" salute.  There was much opposition at home. 


Despite denials by the Ministry of Justice there is no certainty that magisterial appointments are made without an eye on the diversity statistics. As citizens we should be entitled to know if those who sit upon us in judgement are indeed chosen strictly on merit or not.  This would be beneficial most of all to any member of an ethnic minority applying for position.  To be appointed with the purpose of maintaining or fulfilling a quota and  not necessarily on individual worth would be as insulting to those BAME magistrates as it would be for any of us in such a position.  The MoJ must declare its policy.  

 

 


 

Text Box: MAGISTRATES IN
ENGLAND AND WALES

APPLICATION FORM FOR 
CRIMINAL COURT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

                  Text Box: Instructions for completion and return of this form

THIS FORM IS FOR APPLICATIONS TO SIT AS A MAGISTRATE IN THE CRIMINAL COURT. 

IF YOU WISH TO SIT AS A MAGISTRATE IN THE FAMILY COURT, YOU MUST COMPLETE A DIFFERENT APPLICATION 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 and Appendix A and B 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 here: 

www.gov.uk/government/publications/magistrate-advisory-committee-recruitment-information
You will find it helpful to have the Becoming a Magistrate in England and Wales – Candidate Information’ available to you when you complete your application.  You can find this here:

 

This document is produced and maintained by:

Magistrates HR

Judicial Office

10th Floor, Thomas More Building

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand

London

WC2A 2LL


PRE-APPLICATION CHECKLIST Please read ‘Becoming a Magistrate in England and Wales – Candidate Information 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 Candidate Guidance in full.

I have checked to ensure that recruitment is taking place in my area.

 

I am not in the process of seeking asylum or applying for indefinite leave

I understand that applicants are expected to be living or working in, or reasonably close to, the area in which they wish to serve.

 

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 area I wish to serve.

 

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. 

 

I am in employment and have obtained my employer’s agreement to take the necessary time off work if I am appointed.

 (Leave blank if not in employment and see below)

I am not in employment.

I have undertaken at least two visits to a magistrates’ court in the twelve months prior to making my application.

 

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 will be rejected.

 

 

 


PRELIMINARY INFORMATION

 

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

 

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 court (or courts) within the area you are applying to, indicate them below.  Please note that we cannot guarantee to meet your preference(s):

Preferred court(s)

     

 

 

 

How did you initially become aware of the role you are applying for?

     

 

 

What additional material have you seen that has increased your knowledge of the role? This might be advertisements, pages on the internet etc.

     

 

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

 

Refer to page 14 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 twice  before submitting an application.

 

 

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, including any separate applications to sit in the family courts.

 

Have you previously applied to become a magistrate?

  Yes

  No

 

Have you made an application to sit in the family court?

  Yes

  No

 

 

 

If you answered yes, please give details of when you made your application, to which advisory committee, and the outcome (if known) 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?

  Yes

  No

 

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


PERSONAL INFORMATION - This information will be removed prior to applications being assessed

 

                           

Title

  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

     

How many years have you lived in the local area?

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

 

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

 

Refer to Appendix C of the Candidate Information. 

 

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). Please include job title

     

Name and address of current employer

     

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 Candidate Information for further information.

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:

  

     

 

 

 

1.   REFERENCES

 

All applicants must provide the names of three people who have agreed to act as referees.  Please complete Appendix B.

Refer to Candidate Information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Please explain what has motivated you to apply to become a magistrate (maximum 300 words)

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Candidate Information for further information.

 

 

Please provide some examples of how you believe you meet each of the six key qualities.  Please give your most relevant examples.  These could be from past or present employment, from voluntary, community or leisure activities or from other areas of your life 

 

Each key quality example should be a maximum of 300 words.   

 

Good Character (maximum 300 words)

 

 

Understanding and communication (maximum 300 words)

  

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Awareness (maximum 300 words)

  

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

Maturity and Sound temperament (maximum 300 words)

  

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sound Judgement (maximum 300 words)

  

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commitment and Reliability (maximum 300 words)

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voluntary work can sometimes provide an eligibility conflict.  Please provide a brief description of any voluntary work you are currently doing or have done in the past:

  

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONVICTIONS, CAUTIONS AND CIVIL ORDERS

 

Please read the Candidate Information carefully before completing this section.

 

Are you involved in any of the proceedings referred to at Appendix B, Section 1 - ‘Involvement in Current Proceedings’ of the Candidate Information?

 

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

  

     

 

Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence? (Do not include fixed penalty notices for motoring offences.)

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below. You must disclose all previous convictions irrespective of when they were received.

Offence

Date of Conviction

Name of Court

Sentence or Penalty

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Have you ever received a Police Caution?

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below. You must disclose all cautions irrespective of when they were received.

Offence

Date of Caution

Conditions Attached to the Caution (if applicable)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Have you received any Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), including for a driving offence, within the last 4 years?

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

  

Offence

Date of FPN

Amount of Fine

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Have you regained your driving licence within the last 4 years following disqualification from driving?

 

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

Offence

Date of Disqualification

Date on which licence regained

     

     

     

 

Do you currently have penalty points endorsed on your driving licence (this includes points endorsed as a result of receiving a Fixed Penalty Notice)?

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

Offence

Date of Endorsement

Number of Penalty Points

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Have you received a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) within the last 4 years?

  Yes

  No

 

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

Offence

Date of PND

Amount of Fine

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

 

Are you subject to any of the civil orders (or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement) which qualify for disclosure under Appendix B, Section 6- ‘Bankruptcy, Individual Voluntary Arrangements and County Court Judgements’?

  Yes

  No

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

  

     

 

To the best of your knowledge, has a spouse, partner, close relative or close friend received convictions or cautions which would qualify for disclosure under Appendix D, Section 7 - ‘Spouses, Partners, Close Relatives and Close Friends’?

  Yes

  No

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

  

     

 

Excluding any information already provided above, is there anything else 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

  No

If you answered yes, please provide details below:

  

     

 

 

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. 

(Please sign electronically or by hand).

 

   

Signed:

       

Date:

       

 


1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure why anyone would seek to become a Magistrate these days especially if they will have to travel a considerable distance to attend a court. Unfortunately, having got there, they too often find that they have little to do.

    This is likely to get worse as more cases and court hearings are taken out of court by the proposals in the latest Judicial Review and Courts Bill. [I have blogged on this]. The MoJ claim this will make the system more efficient but, in my opinion (fwiw), important principles like open justice are being destroyed.

    ReplyDelete