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MAGISTRATES In the 21 st Century Bev Higgs, JP South Somerset & Mendip Bench The Changing Face of Local Justice MA Conference British Academy 4 th October.

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Presentation on theme: "MAGISTRATES In the 21 st Century Bev Higgs, JP South Somerset & Mendip Bench The Changing Face of Local Justice MA Conference British Academy 4 th October."— Presentation transcript:

1 MAGISTRATES In the 21 st Century Bev Higgs, JP South Somerset & Mendip Bench The Changing Face of Local Justice MA Conference British Academy 4 th October 2011 The Appointment of Magistrates

2 Why become a Magistrate? Joining the Magistracy What is the Magistracy? MAGISTRATES In the 21 st Century

3 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Why Become a Magistrate?  Contribute to the Community  Volunteer role  The fear and fascination of crime  To take part in fair and effective local justice  Complements work life  Learn new knowledge/skills  Meet new people  Status

4 Magistrates in the 21 st Century The Changing Role of the Magistrate Custodes Pacis/Guardians of the Peace King Edward III War with France A network of corrupt Sheriffs Rapidly rising crime Black Death The Kings Justices - Tudors Statute of Westminster 1361 “one lord and with him three or four of the most worthy in the county, with some learned in the law” “A local independence which came to be regarded as the traditional inheritance of the English People”

5 Magistrates in the 21 st Century The Changing Role of the Magistrate Lord Chancellor responsible for the appointment of Magistrates on behalf of the Sovereign since at least 1535 The Criminal Justice Act 1855: Paved the way for 95% of all public judicial work falling to Magistrates – Civil duties divested to newly formed County Councils in 1888 Political – Benches dominated by Conservatives – Liberals abolished the property qualification (land to the value of £100) in – Royal Commission proposed appointments by Lord Chancellor assisted by County Advisory Committees chaired by County Lords Lieutenant 1919 Ada Summers the Mayor of Stalybridge ‘the lady bountiful’ first female JP

6 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Diversity Women%Ethnic Minority%Disability% UK Population (2008) * Magistrates District Judges n/a *of working population DJ’s are ‘pale and male’ as well as younger

7 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Workload – 1.68 million cases 2010

8 Magistrates in the 21 st Century The Landscape of the Modern Magistrate Apply to local court Limited available places in some courts Lengthy and thorough recruitment process 2010 – 26,970 Commissioned Justices of the Peace 398 Benches 38% year on year decline in appointments. 58% fall of appointments between 2006 and 2010 largely due to court closures and bench mergers Likely to show a further significant fall after 2010 court closure programme Lay Magistrates joined by 294 District Judges

9 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Challenges to appointment Court closures fewer places The creation of centralised ‘titan’ benches 20% reduction in travelling expenses? The end of the half day sitting? The Third Tier – FPNs, PNDs, Cautions, RJ and NRP National Sentencing Guidelines National Management & Administration Structure Lack of work Work compressed – routine double booking of trials Judicial Independence maintained? More DJ’s?

10 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Do you really want to be a Magistrate? Contribute to the Community ‘active citizen working in an active community’, the notion of the Big Society. Local Charity Work, practical local projects National Charity Work, the CAB, Samaritans, Save the Village Pub/Post Office/Library The ‘unpaid civil servant’ ‘treated like employees’ by HMCTS

11 Magistrates in the 21 st Century The Magistracy – A Different Approach Scope the Future Community Safety Partnerships by Police and Local Authorities Police & Crime Commissioners Restorative Justice Neighbourhood Resolution Panels Re-imagine the Magistracy - return to the Local New bold Ideas Consolidate Policy Agree a Strategy Attach a business plan Act “To ensure credibility, consistency and transparency there should be systemic oversight of the work of the Panel. The Government strongly suggest that Magistrates should be involved in this oversight role.” Testing NRP Expressions of Interest Document MoJ

12 Magistrates in the 21 st Century Thank you all for your very positive feedback to my presentation I hope we have the opportunity to meet again soon I enjoyed these books when researching the history of the Magistracy (and I am sure Peter King’s books are very good too!) Beard, C. A., (1904) The Office of Justice of the Peace in England, in its Origin and Development The Columbia University Press, the Macmillan Company, New York and London Hosttetler, J., (2009) A History of Criminal Justice in England and Wales, Waterside Press, Hampshire Skyrme, Sir T., (1979) The Changing Image of the Magistracy, MacMillan Press Ltd, London Volume 1 and 2


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