Guest column: Those who serve on juries need more support

John Mann MP
John Mann MP

This week, it was highlighted that support for jurors who are randomly selected for jury service is not sufficient.

The detail that juries have to listen to when court cases involve violence, murder, rape or paedophilia can be gruesome, distressing and overwhelming.

You have to live and breathe the case whilst it’s being heard and it’s inevitable that you will carry those details with you as you leave the court each night and then when you try to get on with your life once the case is over.

I have been aware of this issue for a while as I had a constituent come to me last year who had been affected by a case they were hearing as part of a jury.

They were very young and nothing had prepared them for the distressing details that they would hear in the case, which involved the rape of children.

Currently, there is no obligation to judges to warn jurors that a case may contain evidence that may be distressing or affect them long-term.

This means that jurors are not given a notice that evidence they are expected to hear is sensitive and emotional.

This is unaccept-able and may leave members of the public, who are doing their public duty in doing jury service, with long-term mental health problems.

I have raised this issue with the Justice Secretary, who recommended that if a member of a jury feels affected by a case, they should seek help from the Samaritans or their GP.

This then requires a juror to have to rely on counselling from a charitable service or wait, for up to six months sometimes, for a counselling appointment from the NHS to treat their mental illness.

This is totally unacceptable and I am writing to both the Health and Justice Secretaries to arrange a meeting to tackle this further.

Please let me know if you share a similar experience.

This week, Bassetlaw food bank needs tinned rice pudding, tinned custard, tinned corned beef, men’s toiletries and washing up liquid.

Please donate, if you can, to my office on Stanley Street in Worksop.