The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rethink - Part One Of A Potentially Long Series

The seismic events of this week have naturally dominated the news agenda. There is, we are told, much more to come.

Until the tsunami burst on to Fleet Street there were signs of a growing campaign to sort out the judges, probably inspired by the entirely misconceived furore over the Bellfield/Dowler trial. A headline in the Times' Law section read:
'Citizens need to be confident that judges reflect the full diversity of modern Britain'

But do they? Do they really?
Judges are among the top tier of professionals. They need to have considerable training and experience. They need to have earned the confidence and trust of their peers over time. They need to pass a rigorous selection procedure that has moved far beyond the casual old-boy tap on the shoulder of the old days.

Judges sometimes hold the future of a man or woman or a child in the palm of their hand. Medical consultants do the same with more immediately devastating consequences if they make a mistake. Airline pilots can kill hundreds of people with one relatively trivial human oversight.

When the man in the street boards a plane, or submits to an anaesthetic, or stands in the dock before a judge, his concern is not likely to be whether the professional in whom he places his trust is reflective of diversity, but rather whether he is the most highly trained and competent person available.

Who, submitting himself as we all have to, to the care of a trained professional, is likely to worry about whether the diversity boxes have been ticked? Not me, for sure. I want the very best for myself and my family. Of course diversity is important at the stage of selecting people for training or promotion, but it is nowhere near as important as competence.