The opportunity for elderly people to a share their experience and priceless wisdom in the courtroom has been warmly welcomed by groups representing the aged community. The minister for criminal justice today revealed plans which will allow citizens up to 75 years old to be able to be part of a jury in courtrooms across England and Wales. The Ministry of Justice in a statement said that they aim to create a system which more accurately reflects today’s society and is more inclusive and representative. This aim will be achieved partly by increasing the age cap from 70 to 75 so that a larger percentage of the country’s population can sit as jurors in criminal cases.
The criminal justice minister, Damian Green stated that a cornerstone of the justice system in Britain is for a person’s fate to be decided by the elderly, a rule which dates back some 800 years to the historic Magna Carta. He continued by saying that as society changes it is ever so important for the criminal trial process to evolve with the times the current state of the law does not recognise the improvement in peoples life expectancy which has increased over a period of 25 years. Mr Green pointed out that the judiciary can benefit from the elderly population and the knowledge which they can bring to a hearing.
In England and Wales on average there are close to 180,000 people who take part in jury service with the current age restriction for participants being 18-70. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 was the latest piece of legislation which brought changes to the age restrictions raising the cap from 65 to the current 70. Should the new proposals go through that would mean that further legislation would require implementation at the start of next year in order to establish the changes. The new law would require those in the 70 to 75 age group to also serve as jurors although the initial legislation would still provide a way out for people with a good excuse under the Juries Act 1974.
Paul Green who is the director of communications at Saga, a group representing elderly people, commented by stating that many of the elderly people are mentally agile and can be a valuable asset to any jury. He believes that such a change should be applauded and it is a matter of common sense.