Ric Carlyon - Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Remit 1 THAT the Board establish a Working Group, including a representative of the Ministry of Justice, to investigate how the appointment and on-going eligibility of Justices of the Peace can be enhanced to ensure the service provided to the community is both of a high standard and is easily accessed. The Working Group to consult widely and to report back by 30 September 2018, with its report and any recommendations being a matter for consideration by Conference 2019.Rationale:
Over successive years, several remits have been presented raising concerns about the standard of the service provided to clients.
In 2017, the Marlborough Justices of the Peace Association presented a remit (Remit #4) asking the Board to consult with Associations and the Ministry of Justice “in order to explore means by which the level of competence of Justices of the Peace may be monitored and enhanced”. This was supported by 27 associations. In the attached rationale, it was stated, “In appointing Justices of the Peace to carry out their duties, Government has a responsibility to ensure that those appointed have, and continue to have, the necessary competence to ensure that the right of the public to competent service, is protected.”
While we supported this remit, we believe it is appropriate that Justices of the Peace are proactive in identifying the issues affecting appointments and on-going performance, as well as in suggesting ways in which these can be addressed.
We envisage that there are several areas that the Working Party would need to consider. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
a) Appointment procedures: The current system has been in place for some time and a review would seem timely to see how this might be improved.
b) Accessibility: At present, there is a lack of consistency about how the public can access the names and location of Justices of the Peace.
c) Accreditation: The system introduced recently has been well supported by many Justices of the Peace. However, while this provides a useful guide to the public, as long as it remains voluntary it does not address overall standards of competency.
d) Current and future trends: There is now greater diversity in how the services of Justices of the Peace are delivered. The growth of service desks and their location in a number of different public places has been a recent development that is changing the need for Justices of the Peace to be available.
e) Legislative changes: The most recent changes occurred in 2007. At that time, Parliament envisaged that a greater level of monitoring could be undertaken by associations than has proved possible. Recent legislative changes in some Australian states could provide some useful suggestions including the possibility of limited tenure or a practising certificate.
f) Training: The Federation’s Code of Conduct states that Justices of the Peace shall “maintain a working knowledge of the duties, responsibilities and obligations of a Justice of the Peace by regularly participating in ongoing education provided by their Associations or Royal Federation”. How this requirement is met, as well as the range of training methodologies available, is central to ensuring high standards are maintained.
We believe it is a matter of urgency that issues that have been identified over several years are addressed so that public confidence in the office may be enhanced.
Remit 2.That Royal Federation clarifies which types of complaints other than those arising from Ministerial roles and functions, are to be dealt with under our complaints procedures.
There are 3 places where information on complaints is located.
(a) Best Practice Manual
(b) Justice of the Peace Act Section 5
(c) Code of Ethics/ Code of Conduct
There are conflicting messages in the above.
(a) BPM refers to ‘A complaint about how a JP carried out ministerial duties…” and does not include any other types of complaint.
(b) The JP Act describes 7 reasons for removal or suspension one of which is ‘misconduct’. What does misconduct mean?
(c) Codes of Ethics No 2 and Code of Conduct No 3 describe another range of behaviour and are supported by a footnote stating any breaches will be dealt with under Complaints and Discipline or within the JP Act Section 5(1)
There are increasing numbers of complaints where the complainant is trying to use our process rather than a more appropriate one. We do not have the ability to investigate criminal activity or similar.
The widening range of diverse cultures and morals place JPs at risk of differing opinions regarding their actions.
Remit 3 That funding for Service Desks authorised by a Justice of the Peace Association be based on the number of hours JP Service is available at that location. Where 2 or more JPs are on duty at the same time at a Service Desk each Justice of the Peace’s hours should be counted.
The basis for funding should be the total hours a Service Desk is available to the public.
Remit 4 That there be no limit on the number of new Service Desks per association when funding for a new Service Desk is being granted.
A more fair system which does not discriminate against larger associations is needed.
That the Board seek funding from the Ministry of Justice of at least $100,000 for Ministerial Trainers / Educators. This to be allocated to Associations on the basis of the number of Association members.
•There are increasing time demands on Ministerial Trainers / Educators to provide training for inductions, refresher updates, accreditation sessions etc.
•The introduction of Accreditation has placed increased demands on Ministerial Trainers. This will become even greater as we seek to improve the competency of Ministerial Justices.
•The Ministry already provides reimbursement for other specific training related costs.