THE Cumbrian judiciary are looking for more volunteers who want to become magistrates in South Cumbria and one current magistrate has given his thoughts on why people should consider it.

The Magistracy have recently opened a new campaign to recruit magistrates to sit in the Criminal and Family Courts, with particular emphasis on South Cumbria. Currently there are just over 40 magistrates based in South Cumbria compared to the 70 plus that cover the north and west of the county.

Chris Harris, a current magistrate on the bench at South Cumbria Magistrates' Court, based in Barrow, said: "We are currently looking for 25 people for criminal court and 15 for family court.

"We are not just looking for more people to volunteer, we are looking for people from a range of backgrounds as we want to be able to draw on their experiences.

"We are also keen to draw younger people at the moment, the age range is from 18 to 65.

"An awareness of social issues, people skills, being naturally fair, reliability, as well as no previous serious criminal convictions are skills we are looking for.

"I decided to be a magistrate because I spent a lot of my life doing charity work and when that came to an end I thought I always had an interest in the law so I would try it. It is also a good way to give back to the community."

Mr Harris has been a magistrate for more than 20 years and has been in the circuit in South Cumbria ever since he moved to Grange five years ago.

"Being a magistrate is more about responsibility than power, as the decisions we make are based off evidence and law," he said.

"I do this because I feel like we can help people get their lives back on track. Of course we are also supporting the victims of crime and whatever we can do to help them can only be a good thing.

"During the training and when you are just starting out a new magistrate will be given a mentor and support throughout, and not least there is alway the legal advisor in court.

"Now is the perfect time to volunteer for the Magistracy. In volunteering for the NHS during the Covid pandemic, people across Cumbria and elsewhere have demonstrated true community spirit in their thousands!The Magistracy now needs people with that same community spirit to come forward.

"We also want employers to support any employee that would like to become a magistrate as the skills they want: decision making, team work, leadership are all things we want too and they can be developed in this role."

Searching "become a magistrate" is all you will have to do to apply.