Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Campaign to recruit new justices

Inverness Sheriff Court. Pic: CROWN COPYRIGHT
Three additional JPs are being sought for Inverness

New justices of the peace (JPs) are being sought for positions in the north east and the Highlands and Islands.

The Scottish Government has identified the need for extra JPs at several courts.

Up to five volunteers are required in Aberdeen, three in Peterhead, two in Elgin, three in Inverness, four in Kingussie and Nairn and one in Wick.

JP courts deal with speeding offences, thefts, breaches of the peace, shoplifting and assaults.

Search warrants

Applicants must be aged between 18 and 70 and will serve a five-year term.

The Scottish Government said JPs must be available for at least 12 sittings in a year.

They have to decide whether an accused is guilty or not with help from a qualified legal advisor and can impose custodial sentences of up to two months, fines of up to 2,500, driving bans and community-based sentences.

JPs can also be asked to sign documents such as search warrants for the police.

However, the Scottish Government is implementing a range of measures to make the summary justice system swifter and these reforms will impact on JPs.

They will be asked to undertake training so they can deal with a slightly more serious range of cases which have until now been dealt with by the sheriff courts.

There are 450 JPs working across six sheriffdoms in Scotland.

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