SIR â€“ According to the 2011 census, 87 per cent of the population were white or white British. That means that 13 per cent were not.
Why, then, is John Bache, Chairman of the Magistrates Association, worried that only 12% of JPs are black and ethnic minority? This seems reasonable to me, bearing in mind that those appointed in the last century would have been proportionately more white.
Until I retired as a magistrate last year, most criminals were male, yet half of the bench were women. It is fair in general terms to argue that magistrates should reflect the society which they serve, but that does not mean that an individual defendant should expect a bench reflecting his or her characteristics, particularly if they are of a criminal tendency.
Michael Staples JP
Seaford, East Sussex
SIR â€“ Mr Bache is trying too hard to be politically correct by seeking to recruit more former offenders as magistrates to â€œmake those accused of crimes feel less alienated by the justice systemâ€. â€¨It is far more important that the justice system retains the confidence of the victims of crime and the law-abiding majority, as well as criminals, by having magistrates of obvious integrity.