Lord Chancellor paves the way for first teen magistrates

The
Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer has cleared the way for teenage magistrates to
sit in judgment over adults, after he scrapped the lower age limit for
applicants to the bench.

Falconer
announced that 18-year-olds can apply to be magistrates, bringing the
application age down from 21.

The
changes come as the Government drives to recruit more magistrates who better
reflect the communities they serve, with a £4m, three-year, co-ordinated
regional recruitment campaign.

At
present, less than 4 per cent of magistrates are under 40. About 80 per cent of
magistrates are over 50.

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."

Potential
magistrates must prove that they show the ‘key qualities needed’, including:


social awareness


listening and communication skills


sound judgement


integrity


the ability to relate to others


commitment

By Michael Millar

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