Page last updated at 08:11 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Student becomes youngest magistrate in Wales

Junior Stanford with Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Mr Stanford's interest in politics has led him to meet Gordon Brown

A 23-year-old student who will be the youngest magistrate in Wales, had his first day delayed by snow.

Junior Stanford, from Aberdare in the Cynon Valley, was due to sit in court among fellow Justices of the Peace, but the icy weather prevented his start.

Mr Stanford said that although he was active in the community, he hoped to be able to offer a "younger person's perspective" in court.

He said he was also interested in politics and hoped to become an MP.

"Throughout life, whatever job you go for, people always say experience is required. In order to have experience, you need to be given the opportunity to gain it," he said.

When I come to court I want people to respect me as much as the other magistrates
Junior Stanford

"Over the years I've been involved in politics, working in the community for Citizens' Advice Bureau and in the Pact (Police And Community Together scheme).

"I've probably already done more in my lifetime than some people have done in their whole lifetime."

Mr Stanford, who is studying A-levels in English, maths and law, said there were around 30,000 magistrates in Wales and England but only 145 were under the age of 30.

"There are a lot of young people out there who end up in the courts. It's a younger person's perspective as well," he said.

'More respect'

He said he was delighted by the trust placed in him and hoped that despite his young age, he would gain everyone's respect.

"I've got to try and gain a lot more respect than some of the other magistrates because people will look down on me because of my age," he said.

"All magistrates are equal - no magistrate is ranked higher than anyone else.

"When I come to court I want people to respect me as much as the other magistrates."

The Judicial Communications Office confirmed that Mr Stanford, who is also a school governor, is the youngest magistrate in Wales, although 19-year-olds have previously been appointed in England.

'Becoming frustrated'

His interest in the justice system developed when he became involved in the Aberdare Pact group which helps address crime issues in the community.

"Through those meetings it became apparent the public were becoming frustrated with the court system because they thought they weren't doing enough to punish people," he said.

Mr Stanford, who sits on the Welsh Labour Party executive as youth representative, also has political ambitions and hopes to become a Labour MP one day.

"If I do become an MP, I want to become home secretary. I've worked with the police and have immense respect for them," he said.

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