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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

October 14, 2004: Towards A More Diverse Judiciary

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has published a consultation paper titled Increasing Diversity in the Judiciary. It focuses on judges and tribunal members (but not Justices of the Peace) in England and Wales.

The paper examines what it frankly acknowledges is the current lack of diversity in the judiciary, focusing on the issues of gender, ethnic origin and disability. Currently, only 15.8 per cent of judges are women, and just 3.4 per cent come from ethnic minority backgrounds. The paper notes that women tend to leave the profession in higher proportions than men before they might be expected to apply for judicial appointment. This reduces the diversity of the pool from which judges will be appointed in future.

According to the DCA consultation paper:

  • less than 25 per cent of the judiciary overall are women
  • less than 7 per cent are from minority ethnic groups
  • in the courts (as opposed to tribunals), 15.8 per cent of judges are women, and less than 4 per cent are from the minority ethnic communities
  • in the High Court and above, there are only 14 women (8 per cent) and only one from a minority ethnic background (by comparison, women comprise over 51 per cent of the population of England and Wales, and minority ethnic population nearly 8 per cent)
  • it is not known how many judges have disabilities (numbers are believed to be small)

The questions posed by the consultation paper are:

  • How should the system be changed to increase judicial diversity – what would be your top five priorities for change?
  • If you are a lawyer who has not applied for judicial appointment, what has stopped you from doing so?

Significant changes are already planned for the appointments process in advance of the proposed new Judicial Appointments Commission. Those changes include the introduction of a single competence framework for all judicial posts below the High Court "which will cover the range of skills and behaviours expected of judicial office-holders.”

The Government has stated that it is committed to increasing judicial diversity as a priority. According to Constitutional Affairs Minister Lord Falconer:

“The diversity of the nation should increasingly be reflected in the diversity of its judges. We need to find out why people from diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities are not applying for judicial appointment in the numbers we might expect. This consultation paper will clearly be of great interest to judges and lawyers and legal academics … but I hope that people from a wide cross-section of society will feel able to offer me their comments and suggestions.”

Should you wish to respond to Lord Falconer’s invitation, responses are required by 21 January 2005. The full consultation paper is available online here.