The Lord-Lieutenant’s role within the Magistracy of Kent
In 2011 Justices of The Peace celebrated the 650th anniversary of their creation in 1361. This ancient office continues to provide local justice for local citizens. Magistrates continue to be drawn from people of good character who are required to sit in judgement on their peers. Traditionally the Lord-Lieutenant was responsible to the Crown for enforcing law and order and held the power to appoint Justices of the Peace to The Magistrates Bench, a traditional term for the Panel of Magistrates, within his County.
The Magistracy Today
Today the Lord-Lieutenant chairs the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Panel on the Magistracy, whose task is to select suitable persons from volunteers to join the Bench from a wide variety of walks of life. The Magistracy still holds true to its origins of passing local judgement on their peers. In Kent there are about 350 Justices of the Peace allocated to three Benches, Central, East and North Kent, Justices of the Peace are expected to sit a minimum of 13 days a year. The role is unpaid.
The Call for Volunteers
The Advisory Panel will call for volunteers to fill vacancies, as they become available. Successful applicants will be sworn in before the Magistrates Liaison Judge (currently His Honour Judge St John-Stevens). The Lord- Lieutenant is present in Maidstone Crown Court for the ceremony. This is followed by a period of training before new Magistrates are qualified to sit in Court .
Those interested in applying to become a Magistrate should seek further information from www.direct.gov.uk/magistrates
The Lord-Lieutenant wishes to encourage all those, who feel they have the capability to rise to the challenge, particularly the younger members of society, to volunteer themselves for this fulfilling and worthwhile duty to for the community.