A DRIVE to recruit more magistrates from the business community was officially launched in Birmingham before being rolled out country-wide.

The initiative, is being run jointly by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the DCA, and Business in the Community, and is sponsored by Birmingham Forward, KPMG and St Philips Chambers.

Some employers have already pledged their support including KPMG, John Lewis, Land Rover and Wragge & Co LLP who will be making use of a ‘toolkit’ that outline the challenges.

A spokesman said: “There is tremendous value that the business can add by encouraging and supporting employees who are magistrates. The system really needs more people of working age.

“For business, the discipline and wider experience gained from such employees comes straight back into the workplace and offers tangible development opportunities.  The dual benefit if we can generate enough support is that one of the cornerstones of our legal system is buoyed with the introduction of a more diverse judiciary."

The toolkit has been developed with input from KPMG.

Mark Hopton, Midlands Regional Chairman at KPMG, said: “At KPMG we recognise our role as a local business in the development of healthy and sustainable communities in Birmingham.  By supporting our employees to become magistrates, we are also creating a winning situation for our business, individual employees and our wider communities.

”Magistrates bring their broad range of experiences acquired on the bench into KPMG; individual skill sets are developed and wider knowledge is attained and supporting magistrates provides a unique opportunity to up-skill our workforce.”

Mary Shaw, Head of Courts Policy Division at the DCA said: “Magistrates are at the heart of the criminal justice system, dealing with over 95 per cent of all criminal cases.  As they are unpaid volunteers, many magistrates are in employment, so the support of their employers in releasing them to serve at court is vital.

“In return for their support, employers reap significant benefits from the high quality training and development magistrates receive in skills that are in ever increasing demand in business such as decision making, team-working, cultural awareness, leadership and communication.”  

To find out more see the website at www.birminghamforward.co.uk