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‘Grey jurors’ and what this tells us about perceptions about age and work

by on August 20, 2013

The announcement in today’s Independent about extending the upper age limit for service on juries from 70 to 75 makes an interesting read. Unpacked it highlights a mix of assumptions, perceptions and justifications relating to work and older age.

Is the decision a reflection of the changing demographics in the UK? The article says that currently 16% of the population of the UK are 65 and over. But in 1985 (in the run up to when the age limit for jurors was last changed), the over 65s accounted for 15% of the population. So not a huge difference in percentage terms.

We are also told that at an initial public consultation in 2010 the government claimed 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. But since then, mandatory retirement has been abolished and more older people are working past state pension age.

Then we have the ‘wisdom’ argument, that older people have ‘life experience’ and could add value through being able to apply this in a criminal justice setting by sitting on a jury.

Not surprising then that the Government message is reported as being to ‘make the criminal justice system more inclusive at a time when an ageing population is contributing more in the work place’.

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