An appeal has been launched for people from all walks of life in the south west to consider becoming magistrates.

The Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are calling on people in the region to be part of a new wave of volunteers, giving back to their local community and helping the magistracy better reflect the diversity of British society.

No legal qualifications or experience are required, but volunteers will work closely with two other magistrates and a legal advisor.

Anyone aged 18 to 70 who can offer at least 13 days a year for at least five years is encouraged to come forward.

Data from 2022 on the diversity of the current magistracy in Avon, Somerset and Gloucestershire shows an increase in the number of women (59 per cent of the magistracy), people under 50 (22 per cent) and people from an ethnic minority background (10 per cent) volunteering to be magistrates compared to last year.

Magistrates are given robust training and an experienced mentor in their first year to develop their skills and legal knowledge.

Abdul, a volunteer magistrate in the south west, said: "Having the opportunity to learn so much about the judiciary and make a positive impact in my local community has been amazing.

"It’s honed my communication and judgement skills and that has transferred to my own business. You don’t need any specific legal qualifications and when magistrates do consider legal issues, such as sentencing, we are advised by legally qualified advisors.”

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Steve, a retired community psychiatrist, said: "I have always had an interest in law, and getting the chance to be part of the legal system whilst also serving my community is very fulfilling.

"As a former psychiatrist, it is important for me to balance being empathetic as well as factual and detail orientated, and this has translated well into being a magistrate.

"It’s a great way to broaden your horizons and meet new people with different backgrounds, experiences and opinions."

Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “Magistrates have a vital role to play in our justice system and we want to see every part of society represented on their benches

"By volunteering their time and experience from other walks of life, they play a hugely important part in transforming lives and delivering justice for victims."

Applications are now open - visit for more information.