THE search is on to recruit more magistrates to serve in courts in Essex.

The South-East Advisory Team is recruiting for recruitment drive for the criminal and family courts in Chelmsford, Colchester, Basildon and Southend

Every criminal case starts in the magistrates' court, and while more serious cases are referred up to crown courts, magistrates can give punishments such as fines or unpaid work in the community and even send criminals to prison for up to 12 months.

In the family courts, magistrates make life-changing decisions for the benefit of children.

They can help separated parents make visitation arrangements, enforce child maintenance orders and make decisions that seek to prevent domestic abuse.

Magistrates receive regular training, usually sit in threes with an experienced chairperson and receive advice from a qualified legal adviser to ensure the correct legal procedures are always followed.

Anyone can apply to become a magistrate aged between 18 and 65 - background, ethnicity, education and employment are not important.

You must however sit for at least 13 days a year, be aware of social issues, have sound judgement and be of good character.

Applicants are also expected to be living or working in, or reasonably close to, the area in which they wish to serve.

Applications for 2021 are being accepted until midnight on Sunday (July 18). 

Applications for 2022 will then open and run until January 31. 

Find out more and apply at