All Magistrates Will Have to Sit Race-Bias Tests
Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
ALL 30,000 magistrates in England and Wales are to be tested to discover whether or not they are racist.
The plan, which has been drawn up with the backing of the Lord Chancellor's Department, is the first to be established to assess the attitudes of all parts of the judiciary towards ethnic minorities.
As part of the testing procedure, a series of scenarios and statements will be put to the magistrates and they will be asked to comment on them. Their responses will then be assessed. The scenarios include such statements as "all Chinese are law-abiding" and "all Rastafarians use cannabis".
Justices of the peace will also be asked what they think of such terms as "ethnics" and "coloureds" and such phrases as "nigger in the woodpile".
The testing will be undertaken by justices' clerks. During the discussions any subconscious prejudices will be "coaxed and teased" from those who are taking part in the session.
Magistrates whose responses indicate that they have failed to recognise their own prejudices can be reported to the chairman of their bench.
Those who show overt racism will be reported to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, who has the power to remove them. The testing will be compulsory. …