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APPEAL FOR MORE PEOPLE FROM THE NORTH EAST TO VOLUNTEER AS MAGISTRATES

Bymairaxhussain

Dec 7, 2022
Huma Ahmed- No credit needed-e0720b14

People from all walks of life in the North East are being urged to consider becoming magistrates as applications open in the North East 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 Ministry of Justice are calling on people from the North East to be part of a new wave of volunteers, giving back to their local community post pandemic. With no legal qualifications or experience required to be a magistrate, it provides people with the chance to give back to their community while developing 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 being encouraged to come forward. With support from magistrates in the North East, the campaign is seeking to boost numbers by recruiting 4,000 new magistrates across England and Wales over the next few years.

2022 data on the diversity of the current magistracy in the North East shows an increase in the number of women (52% of the magistracy) and people under 50 (20%) volunteering to be magistrates compared to last year*.

The Judiciary of England and Wales and 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 own skills boost and the benefits of giving back to encourage others to take part. Huma Ahmed is a Science Teacher from Bingley and has been a magistrate in West Yorkshire for 21 years. Her father was one of the first Asian police officers in the country and encouraged her to apply and make a difference to her local community.

On her role as a magistrate, Huma says: “The highlight of the role of a magistrate for me is making a difference to people’s lives. It’s given me the opportunity to make a positive impact and contribution to the community where I live. It’s so important to me that we attract a wide range of magistrates so different life experience is brought to the bench. We need to ensure the magistracy reflects our diverse local communities and that a real cross section of people are involved in deciding the facts of the case. I’ve never looked back – it’s such a rewarding experience.”

 

Anita Atkinson, from Weardale, County Durham, has been a magistrate for 31 years. Before retiring, Anita was a school governor and volunteered in her local community. Anita saw an advert in her local newspaper encouraging local people to become magistrates. From a working class background, she wants to break the upper class stereotype surrounding magistrates.

On her role as a magistrate, Anita says, “Working as a magistrate is never boring, and has given me transferrable skills in my personal and professional life. Being a magistrate is also about understanding your own community and dispensing rulings according to the laws of the land and public expectation. If you have sound judgement and an objective mind, I would urge anyone to apply.”

 

Being a magistrate is a part-time role that can fit round 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: “The Magistrates’ Association believes that more magistrates are needed to help deliver speedier justice for all, so we welcome this continued drive to recruit 4,000 much-needed volunteers. It is crucial that magistrates reflect the communities they serve, 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 the North East, anyone looking to volunteer should visit icanbeamagistrate.co.uk for more information.