In Great Britain, the chairman of the Magistrates Association is stumping for more criminals to become magistrates in order to “increase diversity.”
John Bache stated:
We all make mistakes, we all do things we shouldn’t have done. But we want to increase diversity. And if we did say anyone who’s done anything wrong, ever, isn’t going to be appointed, that’s no way at all to increase diversity. I’d want to encourage everyone, I wouldn’t want to particularly encourage people who have got a criminal record, but I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage them from applying. I wouldn’t want them to think that because they’ve got a relatively minor criminal record some years ago that they’re not going to be accepted as a magistrate, because that would be completely erroneous.
There are roughly 16,000 magistrates (also known as justices of the peace) in England and Wales. Those countries have a history of lay people serving as unpaid magistrates who sit as judges for less serious criminal acts, such as minor theft, criminal damage, assaults, public disorder and driving offenses. They can serve when they are as young as 18 and retire when they are 70.
According to The Times, “The latest figures from the Ministry of Justice show that the number has fallen in the past last six years by 40 per cent. … Mr. Bache said that 9,000 magistrates were currently needed to fill the void.”
Last year, Labour MP David Lammy pointed out the paucity of black and ethnic minority magistrates. Bache, who is a doctor, echoed to The Telegraph, “If you see three white faces, as Lammy pointed out, and you’re from an ethnic minority, the perception may be that they’re not on your side. That would be wrong, but you can understand that might be the perception.”