EVEN WITH the publication of The Lammy Report in 2017, which recommended 35 reforms to the criminal justice system, we still witness the disproportionate number of black youths entering the system. Young black people are nine times more likely to jailed than young white people, according to ministry of Justice data for England and Wales published at the time of the report.
Some of the first law enforcers that these youth will face are magistrates, but how many of us within the black community understand the role of a magistrate and even more understand what it takes to become a magistrate?
The world has changes since the first magistrates were appointed in 1813, in those days only the landed gentry were selected when a professional police force was established. Today magistrates are drawn from all quarters of our society.
“AJN would like to see more members of the black community”
A magistrate is a voluntary role held by ordinary members of the general public – as such, anyone can put him/herself forward to be selected.
Magistrates make up 85 per cent of the judiciary and deal with 95 per cent of all criminal cases and a substantial amount of non-criminal work.
Racial disparities within the justice system remain concerning – with racial bias at the heart, meaning black people in UK more likely to be in prison.
The disproportionality of black people in prison represents wasted lives, and is a source of anger and mistrust, and a significant cost to the taxpayer.
To deliver fairness, rebuild trust and to share responsibility, our communities must take greater responsibility for the care and development of our own. As such we need to stop the talk and take the appropriate action.
In June this year, the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK (AJN) in collaboration with the New Testament Church of God Handsworth, hosted an excellently attended virtual masterclass for the general community to gain an insight into the process of the magistrate system and to learn how individuals can become a magistrate.
By popular demand AJN will again be running another How to Become a Magistrate masterclass.
AJN would like to see more members of the black community get involved in order to make positive difference to the justice system.
The second How to Become a Magistrate masterclass will take place on 20 August from 7pm to 8.30pm.
To register for this free online event, email: email@example.com for details.
Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE, OD, is chairman, Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK.