A MAGISTRATE from Solihull has spoken about her love of helping victims in her role as a campaign was launched to encourage more people to volunteer.
This comes as the Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice have put out a call for a new wave of volunteers to encourage people from all walks of life to sign up.
Hersha, who has been a magistrate for more than 20 years, stepped up to the role after she saw an advert for the magistracy at her workplace.
She said: “My role as a magistrate is to help maintain the rule of law and create a positive change in my community.
“It’s important to treat people with respect and try and understand what led them to crime.
“I love being able to help victims of crime by delivering justice, I feel as though I’m helping make a positive impact in society.
“The magistracy is currently looking to recruit people from all different walks of life.”
Data on the diversity of the current magistracy in Birmingham and Solihull, Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire’s over the last five years shows an increase in magistrates from underrepresented groups, including people under 50 – currently 18 per cent of the local judiciary – and people from an ethnic minority background – at 25 per cent.
No legal qualifications, degree or experience is required to be a magistrate.
Volunteers will be given thorough training as well as ongoing support to help make decisions on cases in criminal or family court.
Magistrates work closely in groups of three with a legal advisor, who offers guidance on the law.
From teachers to electricians, to stay-at-home parents, anyone aged between 18 and 70 who can commit to at least 13 days a year for at least five years is encouraged to come forward.
With support from magistrates in Birmingham, the campaign seeks to boost numbers by recruiting 2,000 new magistrates across England and Wales this year. Being a magistrate is a part-time voluntary role.
Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “Ordinary people up and down the country play a vital role as magistrates helping ensure that crimes in their community are punished and we want more people to join them.
“I am always impressed by the people I meet who volunteer their time and experience from other walks of life and I would encourage anyone with a desire to help victims get justice to apply.”
As part of the application to sit in the criminal court, applicants are required to observe at least two magistrates’ sittings in court.
This is an opportunity to learn more about the role and see magistrates in action. Hearings deal with a range of offences, from less serious crimes, such as speeding and criminal damage to much more serious offences, including murder, manslaughter and robbery.
For more about volunteering click here.