Scotland

What is the chance of being called for jury service?

Justice symbol at High Court in Edinburgh Image copyright Kim Traynor

Juries are the backbone of the Scottish criminal justice system but what is the likelihood of being selected to do your civic duty in a Scottish court?


Who is eligible for jury service?

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Groups of 15 ordinary women and men are selected at random to uphold justice in their local community. It is a civic duty they are obliged to perform.

Potential jurors must be at least 18 years old and they should be listed on the electoral roll.

They must also have lived in the UK for more than five years since they were 13 years old.

However people in some jobs - for example solicitors and police constables - cannot be cited to appear on a jury.

Others who have committed crimes and served time in prison are likely to be disqualified.

MPs, MSPs, religious ministers, full-time serving members of the armed forces and people who are over 70 can legitimately apply to be excused.

There is a full list of exemptions here.


What is the chance of being called for jury service?

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BBC Radio 4's More or Less asked Deirdre Toher, a statistics lecturer at the University of the West of England, to calculate the probability of an eligible person being asked to serve on a jury.

She used figures obtained from the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

She told the programme: "The chance of being called for jury service, as in receiving a citation for jury service, in Scotland is approximately 95% across the 53 years of typical eligibility."

Although many people will receive a letter asking them to serve on a jury, far fewer will actually be selected to sit on the jurors' benches.

About 30 men and women will be invited to court and 15 will be selected to be part of a jury.

In fact, the chance of actually serving on a Scottish jury is about 30%, according to Ms Toher.

The probability of being asked to be part of a jury more than once is about 40%, she added.


How does that compare to England and Wales?

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South of the border, juries are made up of 12 people, and the odds of being selected for the job are far lower than in Scotland.

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice, there is about a 35% chance of people in England and Wales being summoned for jury service over the course of their lifetime.

Only about half of those cited spend any time in court.


Listen to the analysis on BBC Radio 4's More or Less on the BBC Radio iPlayer here.

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