Saturday, July 13, 2024

Ministry Of Justice Calls For People from Thurrock to volunteer as Magistrates

PEOPLE from all walks of life in Essex are being urged to consider becoming magistrates as applications open in Essex for this vital role. The appeal is part of a national drive to increase the number and diversity of those volunteering across England and Wales.

The Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are calling on people from Essex to be part of a new wave of volunteers, giving back to their local community and helping the magistracy better reflect the diversity of British society.

No legal qualifications or experience is required to be a magistrate, but volunteers will work closely with two other magistrates and a legal advisor, who offers guidance on the law. The role also gives people a chance to give back to their community, build relationships with new people and develop new skills.

From teachers to electricians, to stay-at-home parents, anyone aged between 18 and 70 who can commit to at least 13 days a year for at least five years is encouraged to come forward.

With support from magistrates in Essex the campaign seeks to boost numbers by recruiting 4,000 new magistrates across England and Wales over the next few years.

Data from 2022 on the diversity of the current magistracy in Cambridgeshire and Essex shows an increase in the number of women (58% of the magistracy), people under 50 (24%) and people from an ethnic minority background (9%) volunteering to be magistrates compared to last year*.

The Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are continuing to build on this work to attract a wave of volunteers who are even more representative of the community they serve.

Magistrates are given robust training and an experienced mentor in their first year to develop their skills and legal knowledge.Magistrates typically develop highly transferrable skills such as critical analysis, complex problem-solving, mediation, influencing and decision-making, all of which stand to benefit them in their wider lives. Research from the Ministry of Justice amongst HR and business leaders showed they felt people who volunteer as magistrates were likely to have sound judgement (89%) and effective decision-making (81%).**

Existing magistrates are stepping forward to talk about the benefits they’ve seen in terms of their skills boost and the benefits of giving back to encourage others to take part. For example, Stephen, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, is a financial services Information Architect. He has been a magistrate for three years and joined because he wanted to make a positive contribution to society.

On his role as a magistrate, Stephen says: “Don’t be intimidated; you don’t need specialist qualifications to be a magistrate. You get all the training and support you need. You need to be a good listener – that’s the most important thing – and fair. It’s very fulfilling and stimulates all parts of your brain – intellectual, moral, social and emotional. It gives you a wealth of transferrable skills you can take into your job and other parts of your life.”

Charlie from Colchester, Essex, has been a magistrate for five years. He was motivated to become a magistrate so he could make a contribution to society.

On his role as a magistrate, Charlie says: “As a magistrate, you hold the ability to change someone’s life. It’s incredibly rewarding to support people to better their lives and send them on a more positive path. It’s a chance to represent your community, take action for good, and help to ensure fair hearings and justice for all. If you’re interested in becoming a magistrate but worried you don’t have the right experience, don’t be. You don’t need any specific qualifications and you’ll be given all the training you need. What’s more, you can take the skills you learn into other aspects of your life.”

Being a magistrate is a part-time role that can fit around other working commitments. From making an impact on families’ futures and children’s lives as a family court magistrate, to handling criminal cases as a criminal court magistrate, candidates are being sought to fill positions across all jurisdictions. Whether a family or criminal court magistrate, whichever role volunteers take up, magistrates regularly make decisions that will shape the lives of individuals for years to come.

Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “Magistrates have a vital role to play in our justice system and we want to see every part of society represented on their benches. By volunteering their time and experience from other walks of life, they play a hugely important part in transforming lives and delivering justice for victims.”

Mark Beattie JP, National Chair of the Magistrates’ Association, said: “Magistrates are the cornerstone of the justice system of England and Wales, so we welcome this continued drive to recruit much-needed volunteers to help deliver speedier justice for all. Diversity is one of the strengths of the magistracy, so we would encourage those from underrepresented groups and areas to apply to perform this most rewarding of voluntary roles. We look forward to sitting alongside you and to welcoming you as members soon.”

Applications are now open in Essex; anyone looking to volunteer should visit for more information.


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