At the invitation of the chair of one of the benches sitting that day, the High Sheriff observed a number of sessions of the court. All were guilty pleas so the job of the magistrates is to pass sentence or, where their powers are insufficient, to refer the case to the Crown Court. I was struck by the humanity of the process. There is an argument to be made that magistrates do not have enough options at their disposal to deal appropriately with the cases that come before them. That requires more resources than currently available. I was also struck by efficiency of the management of the caseload. The information technology systems are not always as helpful as they might be and the court sometimes proceeds in spite rather than because of them.
The Magistrates’ Court is the starting point of almost all criminal judicial processes and the end point for most, as they deal with the volume of relatively low level problems that Society throws up (though no less important for that for those concerned) . It is a very important job and there is a serious shortage of Magistrates. They need people from all sections of Society. Here is a link to a Government web-site telling you about the magistrates and how to become one.