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Diversifying The Magistrate Bench: Caribbean Applicants Wanted

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The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), is currently urging more people from ethnically diverse backgrounds to volunteer as magistrates With most applications closing by the end of February, it’s important that people from different backgrounds apply soon in order for the magistracy to better reflect the different identities and cultures in British society. 

Currently, we are working with some amazing magistrates who were motivated to join the magistracy in order to help increase the racial representation of the bench. These include peace activist Professor Erinma Bell MBE, ex-army officer Jake Paul Baker and Leicester based Nurse and midwife Pauline Baker.

The ambition is to boost the number of volunteers by 4000 across the country. The number of magistrates in England and Wales from an ethnic minority has continued to increase, with a jump of 3% in the last 5 years, and an increase of 1% since last 2021 (2017 11%, 2021 13%, 2022 14%) but there’s still more work to be done.

Here are the profiles of a few non-white magistrates on the program:

  • Professor Erinma Bell MBE from Manchester is a peace activist recognised for her work tackling gun crime in Moss Side and Longsight. She operates CARISMA (Community Alliance for Renewal, Inner South Manchester Area) to give young people positive alternatives to street and gun crime. She has been a magistrate since October 2018 and is of African heritage.
  • Pauline Rawle, of Black Caribbean heritage is from Leicester became a magistrate in 2013. As a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor, Pauline has always worked to safeguard adults and children. She is also a mother of two children diagnosed with autism and is mindful of how people with autism can experience the justice system. She believes it is her lived experience that can help ads real value to the magistracy bench. Previously she had thought you needed to be retired to be a magistrate but once she realised that was not true she decided to volunteer. It was important for Pauline to become a magistrate to help diversify the bench and make sure communities from minority ethnic backgrounds are better represented.
  • Jake Paul Baker from Northamptonshire has been a magistrate for over 9 years and is of mixed British and Nigerian heritage. Jake previously served as a British Army Officer, during his army career he represented soldiers in court for minor offences. This led to his interest in law and also made him acutely aware of the importance of diversity in the legal system. He always encourages people of colour, and people in the LGBTQ+ and disabled community to consider becoming a magistrate.
  • Lisa Hicks has been a magistrate for a decade. Based in Dronfield, North East Derbyshire, and of mixed White and Caribbean heritage, Lisa feels it is important to represent the ethnic minority community has found being a magistrate very fulfilling.
  • Lisa Baskott, of Caribbean heritage, is a property developer based in Hove. She was drawn to becoming a magistrate to serve her local community and make a difference to the lives of young people. Throughout her nine years of being a magistrate, Lisa has found the role to be incredibly varied, challenging and humbling.
  • Gilles Casse from New Malden, South West London, has been a magistrate for 13 years. He is of white and black African heritage and wanted to bring diversity to the justice system and give back to the community.

On his role as a magistrate, Gilles says: “One of the reasons I became a magistrate is to try and improve the justice system and the only real way to do that is from the inside; as a magistrate you have a voice which will be heard and sometimes acted upon.

The highlight for me is making a difference to people’s lives. It’s also so important to me that we attract a wide range of magistrates so people see themselves being judged by people ‘like them’. We need to ensure the magistracy reflects our diverse local communities and that a real cross section of people are involved in deciding the facts of the case. I also love dispelling the stereotype of who a magistrate is, as you don’t need a degree, legal experience or specific qualifications to be a magistrate. You get all the training you need and you also have great support from other magistrates.”

Further details on participating magistrates to follow. To apply to this program log on to https://magistrates.judiciary.uk/

Pauline Rawle

Jake Paul Baker

Gilles Casse

Erinma Bell –



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