Anyone can consider serving as a magistrate, but not everyone can become a magistrate. The judiciary system needs a variety of occupations to keep the wheels of justice turning.
That goes from the police officers patrolling the streets, the traffic wardens attending to parking violations, right through to community support officers, assisting the police in crime prevention. The latter of a community support officer is filled by volunteers looking to play their part in the community. In a way, you could describe the justice system as relying on personnel to only serve in one area. Either crime prevention support, or in the judiciary panel. You can’t do both.
You need to be unbiased and that extends to your family
Whether it’s you who is helping support your local community, or a close family member, the Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Chief Justice will review your application to find out if you’d be suitable. You can’t serve if there’s a remote possibility that your decisions could be influenced by outside factors.
That extends to security officers in shopping malls too.
That’s why there’s a stringent application process to find the best candidates suitable for employment. The bottom line for a magistrate is that they cannot be involved or connected to anyone involved in the field of justice.
For those of you employed on a full or part-time basis, you will need to discuss your considerations with your employer, as they’ll be required by law to allocated sufficient time off for you to serve on the judiciary panel.
So you will need the support of employers, and one of your recommendations, (references) will come from your employer, to acknowledge they are aware of your application and can support the time off required to serve the local community. When you send for your application form, there will be supplemental information provided for you to pass onto your employers, so they’re aware of their responsibilities to you.
On your application, you will be required to reveal any relationships to others involved in the following fields:
For those who are serving in the HM Forces, it is possible to serve as a magistrate, but you will need your commanding officer to confirm that there’s no future prospect of you being deployed overseas.
The first step to take is to contact your local magistrates’ court and express your interest to serve in the judiciary panel. That initial contact will be to establish the best time for you to attend a visit to the court, while it’s in session.
The reason you need to contact prior to this is that it will let you attend a full day’s court session, rather than only sitting in on a couple of hearings. The experience you have in that initial sitting, will give you a better idea of the roles you’ll be doing, helping you to decide if it really is something you want to proceed with.
It is required you attend a general session in a magistrates court only once, but it’s beneficial to observe the sessions a few times, to support your application. This will help you at your initial interview stage.
There will be a section on your application form to fill out about your professional qualifications. You are asked not to include GCSE results as it’s further education you’ve achieved that will be looked at, and not your basic education. Those will translate over to your current occupation, which is an important part of your application as there is a possibility that the work you do, could rule you out being enrolled on the training to become a magistrate.
It’s also worth noting that there is limited amounts of vacancies come up for magistrates, so even if you do qualify, there’s no guarantee you’ll be appointed. It could be that you’re placed on a waiting list, or asked to serve at a neighbouring magistrate’s court.