The Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are seeking volunteers from Harrow to support their local community and enhance diversity within the magistracy.
Data on the diversity of the current magistracy in London over the last five years shows an increase in magistrates from underrepresented groups, including people from an ethnic minority background (30%).
People from a wide range of backgrounds are being urged to consider becoming magistrates as applications open in North London for another year. The appeal is part of a national drive to increase the number of those volunteering across England and Wales, including people from underrepresented groups in the magistracy.
No legal background, degree, or experience is necessary to become a magistrate. Volunteers will receive comprehensive training and continuous support to assist them in making decisions on criminal or family court cases. Magistrates collaborate in groups of three, closely guided by a legal advisor, who provides expertise on the law
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.
Harrow magistrates are stepping forward to talk about the benefits the role brings to their lives, from make a difference to wider society to gaining a wide range of highly valued and transferable skills.
Waqar from Harrow is a consultant programme lead across local and central governments who has been a magistrate for seven years. She joined the magistracy as she had been doing voluntary work as a youth mentor, which she found very rewarding.
On her role as a magistrate Waqar said: “Being able to contribute in this way is an honour. All the magistrates I’ve worked with are passionate about giving back to their community and actively contributing to a fairer society.
“It’s such an interesting, important and respected role where you’ll make decisions on a variety of cases. It’s a chance to represent your community, act for good and help ensure fair hearings and justice for all. Take the plunge today!”
Sonal is a Toastmaster and Public Speaking Expert from Harrow. She has been a magistrate for over 19 years. Before joining the magistracy, Sonal was already doing voluntary work with children and wanted to do more to give back to the community.
On her role as a magistrate Sonal said: “I had always assumed that you had to be a specific type of person with a law degree in order to be a magistrate.
“However, after doing my own research I found that this was not the case. People from all walks of life bring diversity of experience and opinion to the bench.
“One thing I’ve noticed all magistrates have in common is a desire to represent and support their community, and help ensure fair justice for all. Whatever your background or level of education, you can be a magistrate.”
As part of the application to sit in the criminal court, applicants are required to observe at least two magistrates’ sittings in court. This is an opportunity to learn more about the role and see magistrates in action.
Hearings deal with a range of offences such as speeding and criminal damage to much more serious offences, including murder, manslaughter and robbery.
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 North London, anyone looking to volunteer should visit icanbeamagistrate.co.uk for more information.