The proposal is part of a drive by the Ministry of Justice to make the criminal justice system more inclusive and to reflect modern society by giving people aged 70 to 75 the opportunity to serve on a jury.
Currently, only people aged between 18 and 70 are eligible to sit as jurors.
Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green said:
‘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.’
Saga Director 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.’
Chief Executive of older people’s charity Anchor, Jane Ashcroft:
‘I welcome this move by the Ministry of Justice to increase the upper age limit for jurors. Older people have already contributed a great deal to society and their experiences and views are invaluable, which is why at Anchor more than 300 of our workforce is aged over the traditional retirement age. I’m pleased that more older people will now be able to share their wisdom and participate in the criminal justice system.’
Each year, about 178,000 people in England and Wales undertake jury service. The Juries Act 1974 states that only those between the ages of 18 and 70 may be summoned to carry out jury service in England and Wales. This age range was last amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which raised the upper limit from 65 to 70.
As part of the new plans, those aged between 70 and 75 who are summoned would be expected to serve. However, the Juries Act 1974 still provides for discretionary excusal, where it can be shown that there is good reason why someone should be excused from attending.
The changes will require primary legislation which will be brought forward early next year.
Notes to editors:
For further information contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 020 3334 3536.
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