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Case Studies

Lammy launches London's Magistrate Shadowing Scheme

Operation Black Vote article

A ground-breaking scheme to give more people from Black and other minority ethnic communities first hand experience in the work of magistrates' courts was launched this month in London by Operation Black Vote, the Magistrates' Association and Civil Justice Minister David Lammy.

Civil Justice Minister David Lammy addressing shadows at the launch of the London Magistrate Shadowing Scheme.

Speaking to participants at the Royal Society for Arts, Mr Lammy said: "London is a rich mix of cultures, which should be reflected in all aspects of life, including the judiciary. The scheme has brought greater awareness of the work of the lay magistracy among people from minority ethnic groups and helped promote more understanding of the BME communities amongst magistrates. This success will inevitably result over time in more magistrates from a wider diversity serving the needs of members from all communities. It will ensure that the magistracy reflects the people it serves and forms a stronger link with the community it adjudicates over. This contributes to making it more relevant to the 21stcentury."

The Chair of the Magistrates' Association Rachel Lipscomb said: "The Magistrates' Association has been enthusiastic about this project from the beginning and is grateful to those magistrates who have taken time and care to help the shadows gain from their experience in court. "

Charlotte John, a Magistrate Shadow at Croydon Magistrates' Court said: "To be given the opportunity to shadow a magistrate is something I had never imagined I could be involved in. I am passionate about community issues and believe that this scheme will enable changes to be made to issues affecting my local community. "

Magistrate Shadows pictured with Civil Justice Minister David Lammy outside the RSA. From left to right: Fozia Sadiq, David Lammy MP, Charlotte John and Bev Grant.

Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote said: "This shadowing scheme is a ground-breaking project working towards a more equitable and inclusive civic society. Our communities must play a full and positive role within the judiciary if they are to have confidence in the system. OBV is convinced that a shadowing/mentoring scheme with magistrates will be as successful as its MP shadowing scheme has been for the UK's African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic minorities.

The scheme will give first hand experience of how a magistrates' court operates and what a magistrate actually does. We wish those involved to be community ambassadors, explaining and promoting the role of magistrates and the courts in which they work. It is also aimed at giving magistrates the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of minority ethnic communities."