Magistrate calls for younger, more diverse colleagues

Family Law | 19 Oct 2016 15

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September 22, 2020

Younger, more ethnically diverse magistrates should be recruited, one of the youngest justices of the peace in England claims.

Alex Yip was appointed at just 27 years old. Now 34, he has said that although he “work[s] with a lot of very talented people … they are old and white”. The statistics back him up, as official figures have shown that 89 per cent of magistrates are over 50 years old and 89 per cent are white.

Back in 2006, there were around 30,000 magistrates in England and Wales but the number has dramatically fallen since then and there are now only 17,552. There are a number of factors behind this decline. One is that magistrates have to retire when they turn 70, so many are simply becoming too old for the job. However, a recent report from the Commons Justice Committee suggested there is also disillusionment in the system which leads some to walk away from the benches.

Mr Yip is now working with the Magistrates’ Association to recruit more young people, although he admits there are challenges. A lot of young people are more focused on “work, building their careers, starting families and trying to pay off their mortgages” he said.

Appealing to employers is one tactic Mr Yip thinks could help. He explained that while being a magistrate takes up 13 weeks a year plus training, “a lot of people don’t realise that employers are obligated to give you that time”. It may also be worthwhile to point out that “having an employee that is a magistrate is good for their company”.

In 2014, two QCs published a report which highlighted the lack of gender and racial diversity among the judiciary. They claimed the lack of women and ethnic minorities on the benches “weakens the quality of justice” and although things were beginning to change this was happening at an “intolerably slow” pace.

For more information on magistrates, click here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. Guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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Comments(15)

  1. Andrew says:

    If every attempt is made to recruit from a diverse range and people of one ethnic origin are more or less as likely to succeed than those of another then that is all that can be done. Gender is not an issue for the lay magistracy.

    Age? Speaking as lawyer and lay JP I am on no doubt that you need some decades of experience on this planet before you are fit for judicial office at any level. Others will no doubt differ.

  2. Andy says:

    With the issue of depleting court judges and why the fall is due to two things .First, old age and old rules as a mind set..Second, disillusionment within the justice system just like all other government guided organisations…just like the teachers attitude to the education system old out dated and work load..

    Quite frankly no wonder the Que to be a circuit judge or other is at a all time low. The trend is now more to not apply for that post as it is just not worth the time and effort plus a reduced salary in such case you look for a private firm for increased reward…
    As the prior government has hit the public sector and the rule of thumb is work more and paid less..
    It only lasts for a time then you end up with a all shortage to support the increasing demand of court time..take for instance divorce cases from FDR to court..9,10 months average…

  3. JamesB says:

    Rather that headline then white women, I found them the worse, them and white men. My thinking is get some of these Sharia type Judges in and they may be more pro men and less on-going issues than the current female first courts.

    • Andrew says:

      If I didn’t know better, James, I would suggest that you were being provocative!

      • JamesB says:

        I do think these courts are female first and that is a bad approach. They are not made of china. My ex wife took that approach as do many others and the courts lap it up. I think the law says (section 25, when in doubt, if there is any doubt, give to the woman and ack like an a*&e). That said I don’t condone stoning (well not to death), or burying in the sand for the tide to come in and stuff like that.

        • JamesB says:

          I do think these courts are female first and that is a bad approach. They are not made of china. My ex wife took that approach as do many others and the courts lap it up. I think the law says (section 25) when in doubt, if there is any doubt, Judges are to give to the woman and act like an a*&e). Sharia law is fairer currently to men and women. That said I don’t condone stoning (well not to death), or burying in the sand for the tide to come in and stuff like that. Something between the two extremes would be best.

  4. Chris stubbs says:

    What an ageist person mr yip is. He would feel very offended if somebody said the majority of magistrates were young yellow people.

  5. JamesB says:

    This website is down and not accepting comments. Either that or I have been unfairly censored.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Dear James
      Neither
      Regards
      Marilyn

      • JamesB says:

        Perhaps someone might advise what I said that was out of order? I was posting about section 25 being in need of amending and not using swear words or being nasty. Although perhaps a bit controversial, the system should be open to discussion and points meant with background to them and I would prefer it were posted and responded to or not and judged on its merits rather than censored.

      • JamesB says:

        Perhaps someone might advise what I said that was out of order? I was posting about section 25 being in need of amending and not using swear words or being nasty. Although perhaps a bit controversial, the system should be open to discussion and points meant with background to them and I would prefer it were posted and responded to or not and judged on its merits rather than censored.

        • Cameron Paterson says:

          Good morning James – your comment wasn’t “censored”. It appeared twice in our moderation column so we thought you had accidentally posted it twice – a technical glitch then, whether at your end or ours we are not sure at this stage. I’ve tracked down the missing comment and will restore it now.

  6. Dominic says:

    11% of magistrates are not white, which is a reasonably accurate reflection of the proportion of the population as a whole that is not white. Why is that not acceptable? Is it racist to have an accurate representative proportion?
    As for the age of the magistrates, I’d rather a group of individuals with life experience be in charge of cases than someone fresh out of the ‘offence culture’ indoctrination factories that are modern universities.

    • JamesB says:

      I agree. The biggest most popular societies at these places seem to be the LGBT societies nowadays. Like the media and BBC. 24 hour news with one dodgy liberal viewpoint is doing my head in. On the US election and EU especially. I think they are called a metropolitan liberal elite. I dont know what to make of it or them. I find them and the languages they speak strange and I am not on the autistic spectrum.

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