Two-thirds of people avoid jury service

More than two-thirds of people summoned to do jury service manage to find a way of not turning up at court.

More than two-thirds of people summoned to do jury service manage to find a way of not turning up at court.

A Home Office report published yesterday revealed that medical reasons and caring for children and the elderly were the most common excuses, followed by work commitments, studying for exams, holidays and transport difficulties. Others could not be traced or failed to turn up.

The study found that of 50,000 people summoned, only 17,000 were available for service and half of these asked for their appearances to be deferred to a later date.

Brian Barker, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said last night that people needed to be made more aware of their civic responsibility to do jury service. He said: "Everybody appreciates that it does take quite a chunk out of people's lives but it's an important responsibility and if people don't take part then the whole thing could grind to a halt."

Another worrying finding of the Home Office report was that dependence on the electoral register as a source of potential jurors could mean juries being dominated by white, home-owners over the age of 30.

The study noted that 24 per cent of black people, 21 per cent of people aged between 20 and 24 and 38 per cent of those living in rented accommodation were not registered and therefore ineligible for jury service.

John Wadham, of the civil rights group Liberty, said: "For the system to work, the jury must represent all of the community. Young people and certainly black people feel alienated because of the attitudes of some police officers and the racism in the Criminal Justice System as a whole. It is hardly surprising that they don't want to take part."

Of the 50,000 people summoned, 7 per cent were disqualified for being over 70 or because they had been convicted of certain offences while 8 per cent could not be traced and 7 per cent failed to attend on the day.

Another 44 per cent were excused duties, with many on medical grounds. This included deafness, blindness or need of a wheelchair.

Ministers are reviewing the law which forbids third parties like lip-readers from being present in jury rooms. Earlier this week, the rule was the subject of an unsuccessful legal challenge by Jeff McWhinney, chief executive of the British Deaf Association.

A fifth of people said they had to care for children or the infirm and 13 per cent described themselves as "essential workers". Others were excused for having relatives in prison or on probation, being pregnant or having to care for animals. The study uncovered 170 people summoned who had been excused because of transport difficulties, most of them living in isolated rural areas.

Of the 34 per cent of people who were available, half asked for a postponement. Most (39 per cent) cited work reasons, with 35 per cent saying they were going on holiday and 6 per cent were studying for exams. One in ten who postponed their service were eventually excused altogether.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week