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Lay Magistrates: Selection & Training

Model Answer | A Level

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Explain how lay Magistrates are selected, appointed and trained

Those wanting to become a Magistrate can apply directly to Local Advisory Committee or Ministry of Justice by post or online. Candidates must be aged 18 - 65 and although British nationality is not a requirement the candidates must be willing to take oath of allegiance.

Six key personal qualities need to be demonstrated to Advisory Committee at interview, as set out in Lord Chancellor's Direction 1998. These qualities are good character, understanding and communication, social awareness, maturity and sound temperament, sound judgement and commitment and reliability. The Direction also said the bench should ..broadly reflect the community it serves in terms of gender, ethnic origin, geographical spread, occupation and political affiliation....

There are categories for disqualification. For example, some occupations, such as police officer and HM Forces, also those convicted of any serious offence or a number of minor offences and undischarged bankrupts.

Appointment takes six and twelve months once an application form has been completed. The Local Advisory Committee assess applications, follow up references and ask eligible candidates to a first interview. Successful candidates are invited to a second interview where practical examples of cases are discussed. The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice appoint from people recommended.

The Justices Clerk is responsible for providing all essential training. The Judicial Studies Board oversee training nationally, develops materials, trains the trainers and conducts reviews on behalf of Lord Chancellor.

Initial training consists of introductory basics and sitting in court with two experienced Magistrates and some formal mentored sessions. Core training includes visits to prisons and a workbook for further self study. Training is consolidated by an appraisal about 12 - 18 months after appointment, when a specially trained Magistrate appraiser will sit as part of the bench to observe competence. There is ongoing training to keep magistrates up to date and monitor progress.

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