The chairman of the Magistrate Association has proposed that employing more magistrates who hold a criminal record would create more diversity among the judiciary.
John Bache told The Telegraph that offenders would feel less alienated if there were to be a ‘more representative set of magistrates’, which would help increase diversity and demonstrate that everyone can make mistakes.
It is not widely publicised that people who hold a criminal record can, in fact, become magistrates and this is something that the chairman felt needed to be re-enforced as candidates are choosing not to apply for a magistrate’s job role because they hold a criminal record.
The Magistrates Association want to increase diversity in the judiciary system, but with Ministry of Justice figures showing a marked decrease in the number of magistrates in the last 6 years, there is a need now more than ever to hire more magistrates and the chairman has stated that at least 9,000 more are needed to just ‘remain still’.
The Chairman’s words do not suggest, however, that everyone who holds a criminal record would be hired as a magistrate. Those who have committed serious offences are unlikely to be accepted during the recruitment process, but every application would be reviewed carefully and dealt with on a case-to-case basis.
The Magistrates Association has, so far, struggled to make the magistracy younger and more diverse because not only do working-age people struggle to get time off work, but ethnic minority groups are not readily applying for the role as they feel they may not be treated fairly.
Bache also told The Telegraph that having a popular soap character become a magistrate could potentially help increase awareness for this issue and would reach a wider proportion of the public.
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