Magistrate challenges the age bar

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Magistrate David Dusgate has been barred from sending people to prison because he’s reached the retirement age of 70 –but the Home Office is still happy for him to monitor conditions in their cells!

The well-respected High Peak JP, speaking after tributes were paid during his last sitting on Monday, said: “I do find it slightly odd: you can’t come and sit here, in a very controlled situation, once you are 70.”

“The same Home Office allows me to do monitoring work, which I have been doing for many years, at Sudbury Prison, Styal and at Manchester Airport – and I can go on forever.

“I also do work for the National Trust driving Land Rovers up to the top of Kinder, walling and fencing and I can go on with that forever.”

This weekend, Mr Dusgate a keen cyclist, will complete a 70-mile bike ride with a group of friends who have an average age of 65.

Leading the tributes, solicitor John Bunting said Mr Dusgate had served voluntarily as a magistrate for many years. “You have always dealt with cases with care and precision. I am sorry to see you retire.”

Helen Griffiths from the Crown Prosecution Service said “You have always dealt with matters in a very fair, just and gentlemanly fashion. On behalf of my colleagues in the CPS I wish you a very long, happy and healthy retirement.”

l With the retirement age for the general population rising, calls have been made in parliament for the retirement age of magistrates to be reviewed.

One of those with concerns is High Peak MP Andrew Bingham, who said: “While we need to encourage young people to become magistrates and I applaud anyone who does it, I am concerned that by having an arbitrary retirement age whatever that age might be, we might end up losing valuable experienced people.”