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written by The Justice of the Peace on the 30th October 2017 at 12:42

In the last two months four Justices of the Peace have been removed from the magistracy.  Each of these individuals had committed the same "offence"; they had failed to meet the minimum sitting requirement of 26 half days annually.  I have long considered that this requirement is far too limited in order to achieve any sort of competence and for approved bench chairmen it is an open secret amongst many ex colleagues of being farcically too few to accumulate all the necessary attributes of a successful occupant of the middle chair.  I hesitate to use the approved description "competences".  The structure of magistrates` training is essentially a box ticking exercise. Holding a court to account with all that that entails is, in my opinion, a facility which cannot be wholly learnt just as an individual can learn to play a musical instrument but never with the skill and/or passion to hold a place in a band unless there is that almost indefinable quality of talent. Most people recognise this difference in human quality whether as pianist, footballer,  public speaker or any one of myriad attributes within us as  human beings. Perhaps in the medical world this individual attribute describing the best of the best is in the manner most will immediately recognise; bedside manner.  There is no firm evidence whether or not the quality of applicants to the magistracy has fallen in recent years.  Of one thing I am certain; every applicant should be told in no uncertain terms of the time requirements of the position especially in the first two years.  Each JP thrown out for whatever reason represents a total waste of public money.  In the year ended 2015 £700,000 was spent on training. Latest figures indicate there are 16,129 magistrates. £43 per magistrate doesn`t seem a huge amount to inform, update and train supposedly intelligent people how to perform their desired tasks.  

This parsimony by the MOJ is a direct result of public policy. At every stage of the criminal justice system; from investigation, arrest, court, sentence, prison there is the distinct sound of the bottom of the financial barrel being scraped. At each stage from 2010 those working within the system made their opinions clear, except perhaps the judiciary to its eternal shame. Perhaps the nadir has been reached. Most people involved would hope so. 
 Originally posted at

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