New drive to recruit more magistrates

A new recruitment drive to encourage more people to become magistrates is being launched today.

SUFFOLK: A new recruitment drive to encourage more people to become magistrates is being launched today.

The Suffolk Magistrates Sub-Advisory Committee is looking for new recruits in the Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds area.

Those who wish to apply for the role only have until the end of the month.

Suffolk Justices' clerk David Ratcliffe, who is leading the recruitment campaign, said: “To become a magistrate, also known as a Justice of the Peace, applicants need to demonstrate to recruitment panels that they have social awareness, integrity, good listening and communication skills, have the ability to relate to others, sound judgement and commitment.

“We are not recruiting people with a specific background in mind, just people holding a high standard of the skills required.”

Sue McLachlan, 52, who has just been sworn in as a magistrate at North East Suffolk Magistrates' Court, has worked in a variety of jobs including hairdressing and is currently an IT systems engineer. In her spare time she enjoys playing the saxophone and riding on her motorbike.

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She said: “Since I started work at 18, I have always had an interest in becoming a magistrate. However, the reality back then was that it was a role filled by a certain social class and those with a higher education, neither of which I had.

“I would encourage anybody who has a keen interest in justice to apply. It can be immensely satisfying in knowing that you have done right by a victim and taken into account public interest by handing out an appropriate sentence to an offender.”

The work of a magistrate is unpaid but expenses can be given. Magistrates should sit in court for 26 half days per year and they deal with 95 per cent of criminal cases. No legal experience or qualifications are necessary.

The closing date for applications to become a magistrate at either Bury St Edmunds or South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court is November 30. To find out more visit or call 01284 748481.

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