A report commissioned by the Labour Party and published today has concluded that quotas should be used to ensure 1/3 of all senior judges are women, and to make it so that more people from minority ethnic backgrounds are able to become senior judges.
The report, named Judicial Diversity: Accelerating Change, found (perhaps unsurprisingly) that senior judges are “almost exclusively of members of a small class – white, male, heterosexual and with a socially and economically advantaged background.”
As it stands, among the 12 supreme court judges – there is only one women and not a single person who identifies as being from a minority ethnic background.
To remedy this, the report says that a next Labour Government should introduce a quota system ”to achieve as quickly as possible a balance between the proportion of women and men and BAME and white judges in the senior judiciary (including in the supreme court)”. The report’s other recommendations include making more positions part-time or job-shares, gathering more information on judges’ ethnicity and carrying out an urgent review ”to identify why it is that BAME candidates are failing in disproportionate numbers.”
The findings of the report are not going to automatically become Labour Party policy, but Sadiq Khan, shadow Justice Secretary has indicated that the party will be taking these recommendations into account:
“Geoffrey Bindman and Karon Monaghan [the two QCs leading the report] have thought very hard about what more we could and should be doing to get to a place where our judges are reflective of the population at large. This is a contribution in its own right to the work on judicial diversity. I will be responding and hope that after May 2015 a Labour government will be in a position to put into practice policies that will deliver a more diverse judiciary.”