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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

July 2, 2004: Choosing Judges: An Opaque,  Biased and Outdated System?

An independent report which is highly critical of the appointments process for the senior judiciary has just been published. The Commission for Judicial Appointments has examined every stage of the judicial appointments process in 2003. While the report argues that the “senior judiciary in England and Wales has an unrivalled reputation for integrity and intellectual ability”, it nevertheless acknowledges that “members of the High Court bench are predominantly white, male and drawn from a narrow social and educational background”. Given that a Black or Asian high court judge has yet to be appointed in either England or Wales, it is hardly surprising that the report argues that the mechanism by which judges are selected is considered to be "opaque, outdated and not demonstrably based upon merit".

In the current system, candidates for the judiciary may either formally apply for appointment or be nominated (without their knowledge). Out of a total of 175 judicial candidates in 2003, 92 applied, while 83 were nominated. There were only 25 female candidates.  Five out of the total of nine candidates offered high court posts were nominees, while no less than three were nominated by the lord chancellor.

The report argues that in future all vacancies should be  advertised and all candidates should apply. It recommends that an independent human resources expert should advise  on drawing up a new selection process, which should require applications and consideration of candidates' abilities against specific criteria/competencies. There should be self-assessment, references, appraisals, interviews and possibly testing to establish their suitability. The report looks forward to a new process “with a job and person specification”. Short-listed candidates should be invited for interview by an appointments panel, comprising a combination of judicial and high level human resources expertise, and lay members.

The impact of these recommendations remains to be seen.