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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Judges with attitude

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Judicial Attitudes Survey reveals that most of our judges are unhappy with their pay and working conditions and almost half would retire early if they could.

Judges not content

More than 40% of senior judges intend to quit early within five years.

That was the headline finding of the latest (published 7 February 2017) Judicial Attitude Survey.

Our judges are clearly not happy with their lot despite their salaries which range from £107,100 in the lower scale (including district judges) to £249,583 (Lord Chief Justice). The survey respondents (basically all our judges, since 99% completed the survey) depict a judicial environment dogged by low morale, crumbling buildings, personal safety concerns, pay and pension cuts, and a mounting workload.

Key findings

  • Virtually all judges feel they provide an important service to society have a strong personal attachment to being a member of the judiciary.
  • Judges feel most valued by their judicial colleagues at court (84%), court staff (77%), the legal profession (62%) and parties in cases before them (62%).
  • Almost half (43%) of judges feel valued by the public, but very few feel valued by the UK government (2%) or media (3%).
  • The majority of judges (64%) rated the morale of court staff as poor; 43% said the maintenance of the building was poor; and 42% said admin support was poor.
  • Just over half (51%) of judges have concerns for their personal safety while in court, 37% have concerns for their safety outside court and 15% have concerns related to social media.
  • Over three quarters (78%) the judges said they had had a loss of net earnings over the last two years; 62% said the change in pensions had affected them personally and  74% felt that their pay and pension entitlement did not adequately reflect the work they undertook.
  • Judges are evenly divided over whether they would leave the judiciary if it was a viable option, but the proportion of judges who said they would leave if it was viable (42%) had almost doubled since 2014 (23%).
  • Since 2014 there is a lower level of satisfaction in the sense of achievement judges have in their job, with just under half (45%) expressing dissatisfaction with it compared with 38% in 2014.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas and the Senior President of Tribunals Sir Ernest Ryder said in a statement:

The quality of the judiciary underpins the rule of law and the continued success of our legal services market nationally and internationally. We are therefore extremely grateful to those who took part in the survey, which assists the Senior Salaries Review Body in making evidence-based recommendations to government on judicial pay. In the light of the substantially greater remuneration available to the most able practitioners in private practice, these matters are vital to our ability to attract candidates and retain judges of the highest calibre.

Given the much greater decline in pay and working conditions for front-line probation and prison officers, it remains to be seen whether Justice Secretary Liz Truss is sympathetic to the plight of our judges.

 

Blog posts in the Criminal Justice category are kindly sponsored by Get the Data which provides Social Impact Analytics to enable organisations to demonstrate their impact on society. GtD has no editorial influence on the contents of this site.

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