The application form is the first stage of the magistrates' selection process. The vast majority of applicants do not progress past this stage. Therefore it is crucial that give your application the time that it deserves.
The first step in completing a successful application form is to read the 'guidance notes' carefully. Within the guidance notes you will receive some handy tips that will increase your chances of success.
The guidance notes will provide details of the criteria you must meet. Within the guidance notes there is also a section that relates to 'ineligibility criteria'. For obvious reasons, people who hold the position of Police Officer, Special Constable, Community Support Officer, Traffic Warden or Highways Agency Traffic Officer etc will not be eligible to apply. There are also further restrictions on employment positions contained within the guidance notes. If you have any doubts about the suitability of your occupation then we strongly advise that you contact the Local Advisory Committee for details and advice.
So, once you have successfully studied the application form guidance notes you can begin to complete your form. We advise that your first attempt at completing the form is done on a photocopied version. This will allow you to iron out any mistakes. If you are opting to complete the interactive version of the form then this will not be the case.
Important note - When completing the form use black ink, unless indicated otherwise. If a section of the form or a specific question does not apply to you it is important that you indicate this by inserting 'N/A' in the box provided. If you fail to do this then your application may be delayed. Do not leave the space or question blank, or even put a line through it. Remember, if you fail to follow simple instructions then your form may be delayed.
The first section of the form relates to 'personal information' and this is relatively simple to complete. Make sure your e mail address is readable as there have been many cases where an incorrect address has been provided, or it is unreadable. You will also be required to provide details of your educational qualifications. Only provide details of actual qualifications received as you may be required to supply evidence of these at the interview stage.
Once you have completed section 1 you will then move on to section 2 which is where you will provide details regarding your occupation. In order to complete this section you will need to have the guidance notes next to you so that you can relate to the relevant occupational groups. During section 2 you are required to provide details of your employer's business, or your own business if you are self employed.
If you are unsure as to the suitability of your employers business then we advise you contact the Local Advisory Committee for guidance.
Following section 2 of the application form you will then be required to complete further sections that relate to details regarding your spouse/partner and relatives, details relating to criminal convictions or civil proceedings before eventually reaching the section where you have to state the reasons why you are applying to become a magistrate. Now obviously every section of the application form is important, but none more so than this. What you include within the following questions will determine whether or not your application is to be successful or not. Therefore you must take your time to construct strong answers.
The first question relates to the reasons why you want to become a magistrate:
Q1 - State the reasons why you want to become a magistrate.
Before you start to respond to this question write down in bullet points on a blank sheet of scrap paper exactly why you want to become a magistrate. Those applicants who provide reasons such as 'to put those people who offend away', or 'because it is a highly regarded position' will score little or no marks. In order to provide an accurate response to this question try to think about the role of a magistrate. Consider the following points:
- Magistrates hold a very important role that requires a high level of trust and integrity.
- They perform an essential 'public service'.
- The role requires a large amount of responsibility and commitment.
- Magistrates must have the ability to make sound judgements and decisions.
- They need to possess a high level of integrity.
- In order to perform their role competently they need to know their local community well.
- They must ensure that people in society are treated fairly.
- You do not need a legal background but they must have a high level of common sense.
Now take a look at the following sample response to this question:
Sample response to Q1
"Over the last three years I have had the opportunity to carry out voluntary work within the community. This has been in the form of working at my local community centre for a few hours per week. I have learnt a tremendous amount during that time and it has opened my eyes to my local community. I want to become a magistrate because I very much enjoy working in the community and the skills and experiences I have gained through my voluntary work would be very much suited to this role.
I understand that the role of a magistrate is one that requires a high level of responsibility, coupled with the ability to make sound judgements and decisions. I have held numerous management positions during my career and I have very much enjoyed the responsibilities I have been entrusted with. I see the role of a magistrate to be very similar in that you are required to act with a high degree of integrity, trust and maturity and I have always excelled in these types of roles."
You will see from the above sample response that the person has a genuine desire to work in a role that is focused on the community. The applicant has also made reference to the type of role a magistrate performs and he has also tried to match his skills and experiences with some of the more prominent qualities of a magistrate.
Taking the time to submit a very strong magistrate application form is the key to your success. Follow these tips and your chances of success will increase dramatically.