Wednesday 21 August 2013

Britain is suddenly a country for old men deemed fit for jury service

Under existing rules in Britain, old men and women up to the age of 69 can be called to serve as a juror. Now the Government intends to change the law to include those even older men and women aged 70 to 75. This will add two million to the list of potential jurors and up to 6,000 old people over 69 are expected to be called every year.

In addition to claiming for travel, lunch and refreshments, jurors can claim for loss of earnings and other expenses, for example, employing a child-minder or carer.

Could it be that the Government has found a new cost-saving source of jurors in the shape of old pensioners who won't claim for loss of earnings ?

Of course not. Perish the thought. Old men and women are to be taken on as jurors because, 'suddenly' the Government has been recognised that they have something to offer to juries in terms of their age and experience.

Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green said the shift would enable the criminal justice system to benefit from the knowledge and ‘life experiences’ of older people.
"The right to be tried by your peers is, and remains, a cornerstone of the British Justice system laid down in the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago. Our society is changing and it is vital that the criminal justice system moves with the times. The law as it currently stands does not take into account the increases to life expectancy that have taken place over the past 25 years. This is about harnessing the knowledge and life experiences of a group of people who can offer significant benefits to the court process."

And by the way, the Office for National Statistics estimates that the average old Briton remains ‘disability-free’ until the age of 75.

Saga Director of Communications, Paul Green said: "Older people have a great deal of life experience and many remain astute, savvy and mentally agile well into later life and will be a valued addition to any jury. This is a common sense reform and should be applauded."
Jane Ashcroft, Chief Executive of housing charity, 'Anchor', said:
"Older people have already contributed a great deal to society and their experiences and views are invaluable. I’m pleased that more older people will now be able to share their wisdom and participate in the criminal justice system.’ 
Michelle Mitchell, Director General of 'Age UK, said:
"Judging someone on the basis of their date of birth alone risks overlooking a person’s unique skills and knowledge. While it’s true that increasing longevity brings its challenges, there is also extraordinary human capital within our older population – older people are working, volunteering and contributing a huge amount to communities and the wider marketplace. We welcome all ways of including older people into the different aspects of society including eligibility to sit on a jury."

So old men of Britain, rejoice ! Your unique skills, knowledge, life experiences and being astute, savvy and mentally agile have all finally been recognised.

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