Gillian Beckett: 20 Years as a Magistrate
31st August 2021
This month I’m celebrating 20 years as a magistrate, something which I am proud to have achieved. I have always had an interest in criminal law (probably because I am nosey!) so when the opportunity to become a Magistrate presented itself, I took the opportunity and applied.
At the time, I was working full time and was a single parent with two young children. However, this didn’t stop me from following my goals and after 20 years I have not looked back.
Being a magistrate has been a hugely positive experience for me, it has certainly built my confidence in all areas of my life. Having to listen to the day’s events in Court, then decide as a bench of 3 what the outcome would be and finally delivering the sentence to the court requires concentration and the ability to give the outcome in a clear and concise way that is understood by everyone in the court.
What is a Magistrate?
A magistrate is a volunteer who hears cases in either criminal or family court within their community. Each case is usually heard by 3 magistrates, including one who is trained to act as a chairperson. A legal adviser in the court gives advice on the law and makes sure that the magistrates follow the right procedures.
Magistrates deal with crimes such as theft, motoring offences, minor assaults, and also pass the more serious crimes to the Crown Court. They can also decide on punishments such as fines, unpaid community work, or prison sentences for up to 6 months (or up to 12 months for more than one crime).
Family court cases, which are about children, are also heard by magistrates. They can help separated parents make arrangements for their children, enforce child maintenance orders, and make court orders to prevent domestic abuse.
To be a magistrate you need to be in court at least 13 days a year. You will receive your magistrate rota in advance so you can provide plenty of notice for employers in order that alternative arrangements can be made on those dates.
Whilst I am celebrating 20 years of service, I also want to recognise the ongoing support and encouragement that I have had from DCBL (Direct Collections Bailiffs Ltd) over the past few years. Without the support of DCBL, I would not be available to fulfil my duties to the Courts, Justice and the Local Community.
By supporting your employees to sit as a magistrate, you are fostering a workforce that is aware of local issues, building your reputation by committing to your employees and customers who live and work in the area.