Do you have what it takes to decide criminal cases? North Somerset needs more magistrates

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 April 2018

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse.

Archant

North Somerset Courthouse needs more magistrates to dispense justice in criminal cases.

North Somerset Courthouse. North Somerset Courthouse.

The Avon and Somerset Bench is recruiting 60 people to serve in courtrooms in Weston-super-Mare, where North Somerset Courthouse is, Bristol, Bath, Taunton and Yeovil.

Magistrates play an important role in the justice system, as they deal with 95 per cent of criminal cases.

They sit in panels of three to cast verdict on cases, and pass sentences.

With specialist training, they can also hear youth and family court cases.

North Somerset Courthouse. North Somerset Courthouse.

A spokesman for the Avon and Somerset Bench said: “This incredibly important and rewarding opportunity, right at the heart of the justice system, will not only gain you a greater awareness of your local community, through greater involvement with it, but will also mean you are making a positive difference within your community, ultimately making it a safer place to live.

“You will receive specialist training which will provide you with beneficial new skills, and a greater understanding of the law, which will be transferable to your working and general life.

“The magistracy depends on people like yourself to fulfil this essential role.”

Magistrates come from all walks of life, but should be between the ages of 18 and 65.

People are asked to commit to 13 full days a year, although there are also training commitments.

To make the bench more representative, applications will be particularly welcomed from people in paid employment, men, members of black and minority ethnic communities and people with disabilities.

Across the UK, it is estimated 54 per cent of magistrates are women, 86 per cent are over the age of 50 and 11 per cent are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Dr Peter Reed JP, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Bench, said: “Magistrates play a hugely important role in our justice system.

“Being a magistrate is also the most interesting and rewarding voluntary work I know.”

If you would like to apply, you will need to observe court three times before submitting an application by June 5.

To learn more, visit www.gov.uk/become-magistrate/can-you-be-a-magistrate

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