Sunday, November 10, 2013

Diversity Galore

I am due to sit tomorrow, and as usual I have no idea what will be waiting for me, other than the fact that I shall chair the court. If my last sitting is anything to go by the daily list will bear hardly any local-sounding names, a reflection of the great and increasing diversity of our patch. Let's see how it goes.


  1. What can we say about this? "Too many foreigners.": smacks too much of a little Englander attitude, possibly xenophobic racism. "Representative of a rich multi-cultural melting pot": just not borne out by the facts. It seems that people tend to mix within others from their own cultures in a society wherever possible except when economic or legal factors require them to do otherwise, e.g. using public services. More like a salad bowl with individual and distinct identities than a melting pot. "Best not to say anything": that will be easiest.

  2. 'Local-sounding' names sounds like a euphemism. Many people in the West London suburbs now have only great-grandparents who ever lived outside the UK; three generations might therefore count as 'local'. Moreover, merely raising the subject suggests that your perception of the origin of someone's name is a significant feature of those before you; that perception (unreal as it may be) is very unfortunate and does the Bench no good.
    Perhaps tangentially, it is also worth remembering that: a) there are often mis-matches between 'local-sounding names' and 'ethnicity', and b) what is now England, and especially the London area, has always been a place of immigration. Examples include: a) John Archer, Mayor of Battersea c.1914, and b) Gilla (fl. unknown) in what is now Ealing !

  3. We, too, don't know what is coming before us. We have recently merged from 3 Benches to one covering the whole of the county. The matrix has just been released and although we know theoretically what is happening, it isn't always the case. Like you, I just note what day I am sitting and where, turn up and see what I am doing then. It hasn't settled down yet - last time we had to wait for the start of a trial as it wasn't being heard in the defendents home court (trials being mostly in one of our courthouses); he didn't have enough money to catch the train before 9.30, so unable to get to court before 10.30. He would have been on time if the trial had been held locally.

  4. Interesting that you know when you are going to be a chairman; we don't know until the morning pre-court briefing. Because there has been no recruitment of new magistrates for three years now here, more than 50% of it is made up of chairmen, so it is not unusual for three chairmen to be listed on the same bench.

    I have not sat as a chairman for a full day in more than a year; we toss a coin to see who will start, then swap at lunchtime (unless it is a full-day trial), so at least two out of those three have a chance to keep up competency. And because of the moratorium on recruitment (caused by bench mergers and reduced courts) we have magistrates who have yet to be offered chairman training five years into their careers. Hopefully that will change next year when up to 10 new justices are sworn onto the county bench, a similar number retire, and chair training can resume.

  5. Tony Frost - you left out William the conquorer.
    The rest is the usual stuff to pretend that the English have always been a strong mixture of foreigners.
    I was born in what was Britain in 1935 and it was not so. We even went to some pains to keep out would be 'immigrants '- 1940 to 1945.
    The token this or that would prove nothing.

    1. ... while welcoming many other immigrants (Poles, German Jews, Belgians, French...). Buffoon.

    2. Indeed, William the Conqueror. That is why you speak of pork, beef, and venison on the table, while it is swine, cow and deer on the hoof. Another 1935 feature: the silver jubilee of a half-German King...

      BTW:- It was 1939-45 (unless you're a yank). Nonetheless, grateful thanks for your part in the defence of these islands while still under the age of ten.

  6. 1935: large recently-European jewish community in London, Scots in London, large cosmopolitan populations in all dockland areas, remnants of Hugenot migrations still present in Shoreditch and East Anglia...

  7. Reported today:-
    The number of Muslims in jail has doubled in a decade to more than 11,000, according to figures published yesterday. Muslim inmates make up more than one fifth of the population of some of the biggest prisons, including Wandsworth, Wormwood Scrubs and Pentonville in London.

    The rise is revealed in the latest snapshot of prison life, which also confirms that the jail population is “greying”. Almost one third of the 85,300 prisoners in England and Wales are over 40 and the number over 60 has almost doubled to more than 3,000.

    The proportion of Muslim prisoners rose from 7.7 per cent in 2002 to 13.4 per cent last year, a reflection of the disproportionately youthful composition of the Muslim community; despite the ageing prison population, crime is still concentrated among younger people. The increase has also been boosted by Muslims jailed for terror offences and by converts, including inmates who have turned to Islam while in jail.


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