A big recruitment drive to find new magistrates will be launched at the North Devon show on August 6. Serving JPs from the area are running a stand in the main Mall to talk about the work of the courts and the importance of recruiting magistrates from a

A big recruitment drive to find new magistrates will be launched at the North Devon show on August 6. Serving JPs from the area are running a stand in the main Mall to talk about the work of the courts and the importance of recruiting magistrates from a wide range of backgrounds. Anyone interested will be encouraged to apply for an information pack and visit the courts at Barnstaple Civic Centre to watch justice in action. The initiative will be followed by an advertising campaign in the autumn which focuses on a series of challenging case studies. Funded by the Ministry of Justice, it carries the slogan: 'You Decide: Become A Magistrate. Michael Downward, Chairman of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Sub-Committee for North Devon, said it was vitally important to attract new blood - particularly younger, working people and those from ethnic minorities. 'We need to reflect all sections of our community if we're to serve the people of North Devon in the manner they deserve,' he said. 'Older magistrates are hugely valuable given their broad experience of life. 'But we need more people in the workplace; people who can bring an extra dimension to our discussions both in and out of court. 'That's why we're appealing to employers, in particular, to encourage applications from interested staff. 'In doing so, employers will not only show their sense of social responsibility - they'll equip their people with valuable new skills of assessment and judgement.' Anyone interested in joining the North Devon bench will be asked to complete a straightforward application aimed at ensuring they are of suitable character and have the necessary commitment. Interviews are held in Barnstaple annually and candidates are assessed on six essential qualities - social awareness, understanding and communication, maturity and sound temperament, sound judgement, commitment and reliability and good character. Successful applicants must then be approved by the Lord Chancellor before joining an intensive two-day training course. They will begin hearing cases alongside more experienced colleagues and will also be assigned a personal mentor - a senior JP who can tackle any specific problems they encounter Mr Downward stressed that the days when magistrates were selected largely from the gentry or professional classes were long past. 'It doesn't matter whether you're a rocket scientist or a road-sweeper,' he said. 'Everyone has experiences of life which are valuable to the Bench. 'Our aim is simply to recruit the very best candidates from all sections of the North Devon community.'