Govt campaign to recruit more diverse magistrates

The
Government hopes to almost double the number of new magistrates appointed each
year over the next three years.

It
is launching a nation-wide campaign in a bid to increase the number of
magistrates recruited each year from 1,500 to 2,500 and to improve the service.

Working
with 90 local Magistrates Advisory Committees in England and Wales, the
Government is to launch a £4m three-year co-ordinated regional recruitment
campaign, which will include a free hotline, bus, radio and media adverts, and
leaflets.

Secretary
of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, said:
"We need to re-double our efforts and recruit more magistrates, recruit
younger magistrates, and increase the number of black and Asian justices,
particularly in those cities and towns where they are under-represented.

"One
of the main difficulties in recruiting from minority ethnic communities lies in
the generally held, but erroneous view, that to become a magistrate you have to
be white, middle class, middle-aged and professional," he said.

The
campaign aims to:


Encourage younger people to become magistrates – less than 4 per cent are under
40. About 80 per cent of magistrates are over 50


Deliver targeted recruitment of ethnic minorities in cities where they are
under-represented


Encourage more people with disabilities to become magistrates


Encourage employers to give workers time off to become magistrates


The Government is proposing cutting the number of the minimum number of sitting
days to the equivalent of one a month.

By Michael Millar

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