Monday, 22 October 2012

Reduction in Magistrates Appointed

I see there has been a marked reduction in Magistrates appointed:

As at 1 April to 31 March each year: Magistrates appointed
2002-03 1,410
2003-04 1,768
2004-05 1,766
2005-06 2,212
2006-07 2,412
2007-08 1,899
2008-09 1,773
2009-10 1,632
2010-11 1,012
2011-12 736

It is important that we keep this institution alive and be alive to the creep of DJs (MC) and the reduction in the number of offences being deal with out of Court.  Magistrates may be slower and less efficient, but they represent a crucial lay element within the criminal justice system.  A lay element we lose at our peril.


  1. They can sometimes be somewhat slow but so can DJs. A good bench gets on with it and there has been a lot of emphasis on chairmanship training in recent years which has hopefully led to improvement. Pre-court briefing of the magistrates should also help enormously. A paradox in all of this is that as training for lay benches has been improved and a competency scheme introduced, the responsibility level of the work entrusted to lay benches appears to have reduced. It will be interesting to see what other comments come forward.

  2. Management of the courts, alcohol, betting and gaming licensing, sitting with professional judges in youth courts, membership of some tribunals, dealing with youths charged with sexual offences, dealing with cases likely to attract media attention; all removed from magistrates. The venn protocol consigned to history. And a large increase in out-of-court disposals (including triage for youths) all mean a greatly reduced need for magistrates. Part of this presumably arises from a policy decision by Government or the Senior Judiciary.