Facts and figures about the magistracy
- Magistrates, who were traditionally called justices of the peace, are ordinary people who give back to their communities by hearing cases in their local adult, family and youth courts.
- They listen carefully to all evidence given in court and follow structured sentencing guidelines to reach fair decisions. They are advised on points of law by a legal adviser who sits with them.
- This is an unpaid, voluntary role that has existed for over 650 years.
- With over 90 per cent of all criminal cases being resolved in the magistrates’ court, magistrates are the cornerstone of the justice system of England and Wales.
- Magistrates receive different types of training and support, both before and during their time as justices of the peace.
- Magistrates come from all walks of life; they are ordinary people with common sense and the capacity to make fair decisions. You can find out more about the eligibility criteria
- The magistracy is one of the most diverse parts of the justice system, but there is still much room for improvement. Latest available government statistics (July 2023) reveal that: 57 per cent of sitting magistrates are women, 13 per cent are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and 82 per cent are aged 50+.
Facts about the Magistrates’ Association
- Founded in 1920, the MA is the only membership body and the independent voice for magistrates in England and Wales.
- We were granted a royal charter in 1962 that guarantees our independence.
- We’re a democratic association—run by and for our 12,000 members.
- We’ve successfully advocated to increase magistrates’ mandatory retirement age and for a national recruitment campaign.
- We have five policy committees that steer research, development, and implementation of policy in their specialist areas.
- We have four diversity and inclusion networks, providing a supportive environment for groups that are currently underrepresented in the magistracy, including Black, Asian and minority ethnic, disabled, LGBT+ and young magistrates.