Judiciary: Equality

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 24th March 2021.

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Photo of Tulip Siddiq Tulip Siddiq Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to ensure diversity in appointments to the judiciary.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Encouraging diversity in the judiciary is a priority for the Ministry of Justice. The Lord Chancellor has a shared statutory responsibility for judicial diversity alongside the Lord Chief Justice and the Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). All three are members of the Judicial Diversity Forum, which brings together leaders from organisations across the legal sector to improve judicial diversity.

The Judicial Diversity Forum’s first combined statistical report was published on 17 September 2020, bringing together data on the diversity of the judiciary, judicial appointments and from the relevant legal professions (solicitors, barristers and legal executives). Published alongside the statistical report is a summary of the wide range of actions that its members are undertaking – at different career stages, either collectively or individually to help increase judicial diversity. The statistical report and the Action Plan were published on the Judicial Appointments Commission website:

https://judicialappointments.gov.uk/new-team-will-lead-on-targeted-diversity-initiatives/

MoJ specifically committed to doing the following:

  • Funding a two-year pilot programme of targeted outreach and support activity by the JAC, which officially launched on 9 November. A small and separate unit within the JAC, called the ‘Targeted Outreach and Research Team’ has been tasked with engaging and providing advice and guidance to potential candidates from underrepresented backgrounds including BAME, women, disabled and solicitor candidates for specific senior court and tribunal roles.
  • Reviewing the statutory and non-statutory eligibility criteria for appointment with the aim of removing barriers that discourage or prevent application for judicial posts from CILEx.
  • Continuing to support the Pre-Application Judicial Education programme (PAJE) which provides support and information to those considering a judicial role and targets lawyers from under-represented groups including women, BAME, those with disabilities and non-barristers across England and Wales.
  • Publishing a revised Salaried Part-Time Working policy (SPTW) which offers the judiciary a more flexible working offer – it was published in October 2020.

For the magistracy, MoJ is investing £1m in a recruitment and attraction programme to recruit more and more diverse magistrates. This will include the introduction of new IT that will enable better tracking of magistrate recruitment data, and outcomes, including by diversity data. We will also be investing in a targeted marketing strategy in 2021 directed at under-represented groups in local areas to boost magistrate recruitment. All judicial appointments are made solely on merit.

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