I welcome publication of the Judicial Diversity Forum’s combined statistical report. It brings together data on the diversity of the judiciary, judicial appointments and from the relevant professional bodies (the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).
The report shows improvements over time in the representation of both female and ethnic minority members of the judiciary. It shows that, compared with judges, a higher proportion of magistrates are women, or BAME. It is clear, however, that further progress is needed, particularly at more senior levels.
The report is a significant step towards the provision of a comprehensive, single data source. While previous reports have looked only at the diversity of the technically eligible pool, this report shows that those who apply for judicial roles have considerably more legal experience than the minimum required by statute – on average 15 years for roles requiring five years minimum, and 25 years for those requiring seven years (usually the more senior judicial roles). Ethnic minority and female representation is lower for more experienced and for more senior members of the profession.
However, there remain gaps in the data. Currently only data on ethnicity, gender, age and professional background of judges are available for publication. We are working to allow all judicial office holders to self-classify their ethnicity and gender along with all other protected characteristics, with a view to making the data available for future publication. A detailed understanding of the data is needed to formulate targeted actions most effectively.
The complex picture illustrated by the report emphasises the importance of all partners in the Judicial Diversity Forum continuing and building on the action being taken to promote diversity at all levels. For our part, we will shortly publish a new judicial diversity and inclusion strategy which will set out our ambitions and objectives for the next five years. The objectives we set ourselves will be testing and ambitious. They will contribute to the work being done by all those represented in the Judicial Diversity Forum to increase the diversity of the pool of applicants from which the Judicial Appointments Commission can make recommendations for appointment. They will demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that the judiciary provides an environment where talented individuals, whatever their personal or professional background, can thrive and where bullying, harassment and unfair treatment are unacceptable.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Judicial Diversity Committee of the Judges Council, its chair Lady Justice Simler, and all the other judicial office holders who worked hard to increase diversity and inclusion within the judiciary throughout the Courts and Tribunals, especially our 128 Diversity and Community Relations Judges. I would also like to thank our partners within the Judicial Diversity Forum for their efforts. I will continue to work both with the Judicial Diversity Committee and the Judicial Diversity Forum to secure progress in this important area, and am glad to have the wholehearted support of Sir Keith Lindblom, who takes up office as Senior President of Tribunals later this week.
Lord Burnett of Maldon,
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales