It’s incredible that the judicial system has been in existence for over 650 years since 1361 when King Edward III signed the Statute of Winchester and established that the Crown would appoint local men (only men at that time) as Justices of the Peace.
Over the centuries many changes have taken place until we have reached today’s criminal justice system for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has a different judicial system).
Locally, a ‘History of the Magistracy’ booklet was produced to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the magistracy in 2011. It gives brief details of the changes that took place in each century which influenced and shaped our current criminal justice system.
It has been quite a journey through the centuries, which has culminated in today’s criminal justice system that provides a structured and unbiased approach to fair and equitable decision making in respect of each case brought before the Bench. But it is not a static service and is kept under constant review to ensure value for money, efficiency and effectiveness, and to provide the public with confidence in it.
The magistracy has survived many changes and developments. As we embark on the years ahead the magistrates and court administration will respond positively and innovatively to the challenges and changes. The MIC Team in North Cheshire will continue to promote our professional contributions and highlight our work to as wide a range of organisations, people, pupils and students as possible so that our community can gain knowledge and an understanding of our role and the consequences of crime.
We hope that you will find our brief history booklet both stimulating and informative.
Over 650 years of local Justice from 1361 to present
Celebration of the 650th anniversary of the Magistracy
The Warrington Bench held a ‘Celebration Day’ on 8th November 2011, which was open to all members of the public. There were many displays that included stalls highlighting the work of the Probation Service, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Services (HMCTS), Witness Support and others.
The very interesting Warrington Police Museum was open to the public together with police vehicles on display in the courtyard.
The highlights of the day were two mock trials enacted by magistrates, other court officials and students. The first mock trial was set in Victorian times and proved extremely popular, and the other mock trial was set in present times.
The cast of the Victorian Mock Trial 2011
New Scales of Justice and trophies
The Warrington Bench (now part of North Cheshire) commissioned Priestly 6th Form College to design a new Scales of Justice and trophies. They did a great job of both design and production and the photograph below shows the students with the Warrington Bench Chair (Geoff Hawley) and the creative and imaginative designs the students produced. We will be proud to present the winning designs to annual winners of the Inter-School Mock Trial Competition.