Courts Service: Estates

House of Lords written question – answered on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Stoddart of Swindon Lord Stoddart of Swindon Independent Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by Lord Bach on 18 March (WS 80-81), how many magistrates' courts there were in 1997; how many there will be following the closures announced in the Statement; how many serving magistrates there were in 1997; how many there are at present; how many men and how many women magistrates there were in 1997; and what are the present numbers.

Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Up until 1 April 2005, magistrates' courts were the responsibility of locally managed magistrates' courts committees who were statutorily independent. The Ministry of Justice does not hold information on the number of magistrates' courts prior to 2005, as they were not required by statute to inform the department of closures that were not subject to an appeal under Section 56(3) of the Justices Peace Act 1997 (now repealed). Research suggests that there were 479 magistrates' courts in 1997 and 335 will remain following the closures announced in the Statement.

In 1997, there were 30,374 magistrates of which 14,516 (47.8 per cent) were female and 15,858 were male. As at 25 March 2010, there are 28,761 magistrates of which 14,633 (51 per cent) are female and 14,128 are male.

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