Could you be a magistrate and dispense justice in criminal cases?

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

Magistrate courts in and around Weston are in need of new people to join the bench and pass verdicts on criminal cases.

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

Avon and Somerset Bench is hoping to recruit 60 people to dispense justice at courthouses in Weston, Bristol, Bath, Taunton and Yeovil.

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse. - Credit: Archant

Magistrates are volunteers who sit in panels of three to decide the verdict in cases, and pass sentence.

They most regularly hear criminal cases, but can, with specialist training, hear youth and family court cases.

Dr Peter Reed JP, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Bench, said: “Magistrates play a hugely important role in our justice system.

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“We deal with 95 per cent of all criminal cases.

“Being a magistrate is also the most interesting and rewarding voluntary work I know.”

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Magistrates come from all walks of life, but should be between the ages of 18 and 65.

People are asked to commit to 13 full days a year, although there are also training commitments.

To make the bench more representative, applications will be particularly welcomed from people in paid employment, men, members of black and minority ethnic communities and people with disabilities.

Across the UK, it is estimated 54 per cent of magistrates are women, 86 per cent are over the age of 50 and 11 per cent are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

A spokesman for the Avon and Somerset Bench said: “This incredibly important and rewarding opportunity, right at the heart of the justice system, will not only gain you a greater awareness of your local community, through greater involvement with it, but will also mean you are making a positive difference within your community, ultimately making it a safer place to live.

“You will receive specialist training which will provide you with beneficial new skills, and a greater understanding of the law, which will be transferable to your working and general life.

“The magistracy depends on people like yourself to fulfil this essential role.”

If you would like to apply, you will need to observe court three times before submitting an application by June 5.

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