'Too few women' applying to become judges

The body responsible for selecting judges and sheriffs is working with the legal profession to encourage more people from under-represented groups to apply for office.

The Judicial Appoinments Board for Scotland (Jabs) annual report pointed out that the number of women eligible for judicial appointment was increasing faster than the number of applications.

Just over a third of applications last year came from women, and only six described themselves as non-white.

Jabs has established a diversity steering group "to encourage diversity in the range of individuals available for selection to be recommended for appointment to judicial office".

But it admitted it was difficult to know how many people who were eligible to become judges or sheriffs were from minority groups.

"The legal professions lack comprehensive statistics on diversity," the annual report said.

"No hard data exists on disability, sexual orientation or ethnic background in relation to members of the legal profession in Scotland."

The board says it needed the information to see whether any barriers, real or perceived, needed to be addressed to encourge more applications.

Non-white applicants

"The board will work with the legal profession and judiciary to help them to become more active in promoting judicial office among those who are currently not coming forward, particularly good candidates from under-represented groups," it said.

The annual report said applications were sought in 2010/11 for judges of the Court of Session, sheriffs-principal, sheriffs and part-time sheriffs.

Of 192 applications, only 50 came from women and just six applicants said they were non-white.

Candidates were asked to describe their sexual orientation, but where there were a small number of applications for a post, the results have not been published.

Six people describing themselves as "homosexual" applied for posts as part-time sheriffs.

Among religious minorities, two applicants were Jews, there were two Muslims as well as a Sikh and a Hindu.

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