'Grey jurors' given the nod as age limit raised from 70 to 75

Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green 'harnessing life experiences of people who can offer significant benefits'

Legal Affairs Correspondent

More pensioners will be able to serve on juries, with proposals to raise the age of eligibility to 75, the justice minister has announced.

The move, which was welcomed by organisations representing older people, is designed to make the criminal justice system more inclusive at a time when an ageing population is contributing more in the work place. Those aged 65 and over now account for 16 per cent of the population of the UK, or 10.4 million people.

"The right to be tried by your peers is, and remains, a cornerstone of the British Justice system laid down in the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago.

"Our society is changing and it is vital that the criminal justice system moves with the times. The law as it currently stands does not take into account the increases to life expectancy that have taken place over the past 25 years," said Criminal Justice Minister Damian Green.

He added: "This is about harnessing the knowledge and life experiences of a group of people who can offer significant benefits to the court process."

Each year, around 178,000 people in England and Wales undertake jury service, but currently only those between 18 and 70 can sit as jurors.

An initial public consultation on raising the age limit was launched in 2010, with the government claiming that so-called "grey jurors" would save the economy up to £146m a year by taking the place of younger people who have to give up work in order to attend jury service.

The age range was last amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which raised the upper limit from 65 to 70, and the latest proposed changes to the age range would require a new law, to be brought forward early next year.

Paul Green, director of Saga which represents people over 50, said: "Older people have a great deal of life experience and many remain astute, savvy and mentally agile well into later life and will be a valued addition to any jury. This is a common sense reform and should be applauded."

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of older people's charity Anchor added: "I welcome this move by the Ministry of Justice to increase the upper age limit for jurors.

"Older people have already contributed a great deal to society and their experiences and views are invaluable, which is why at Anchor more than 300 of our workforce is aged over the traditional retirement age.

"I'm pleased that more older people will now be able to share their wisdom and participate in the criminal justice system."

Video: Damian Green on David Miranda case

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