The Humber magistrates back campaign to find more local magistrates

The number of people under 50 and women volunteering as a magistrate has increased across the Humber and South Yorkshire

Applications are now open for anyone looking to volunteer: icanbeamagistrate.co.uk

People from all walks of life in South Yorkshire are being urged to consider becoming magistrates as applications open in South Yorkshire 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 South Yorkshire 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 South Yorkshire, 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 Humber and South Yorkshire shows an increase in the number of women (51% of the magistracy) and people under 50 (20%) 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 judgment (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. Nicholas from Sheffield is a driving instructor who has been a magistrate for 13 years. Having always had a keen interest in the law, he became a magistrate to make a positive difference in his local community.

In his role as a magistrate, Nicholas says: “I love representing my local community and coming away from a day in court knowing the decisions I’ve helped make, will improve the lives of people who live in my area. I encourage people from all walks of life to join the bench – the more life experience we can bring to making the important decisions that we do in court, the better. Anyone volunteering will get so much out of it too – learning new skills and meeting great new people.”

Stephen is a Pharmacist living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He was driven to become a magistrate through a desire to advocate for young people in court and serve his local community, he has now been a magistrate for the last 11 years in South Yorkshire.

In his role as a magistrate, Stephen says: “I find working as a magistrate so rewarding. You never know what cases you will be dealing with that day and the variety is so wide. I feel I’m giving back to my community and I have a great sense of pride in carrying out my duties. I have increased my self-confidence and communication skills in the role and have applied this to my work as a pharmacist.”

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 South Yorkshire, anyone looking to volunteer should visit icanbeamagistrate.co.uk for more information.


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