UK among lowest for female judges in Europe

UK judicial systems have some of the lowest proportion of females among professional judges in Europe, one of the continent’s leading human rights organisation has said.

Anne Smith in full bottom wig. Pic Neil Hanna
Anne Smith in full bottom wig. Pic Neil Hanna

England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are at the bottom of a list of European nations in terms of female representation in the judiciary, along with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Ireland, the Council of Europe (CoE) said in its annual report on the efficiency and quality of justice in 45 European countries.

Some 25.2 per cent of judges in England and Wales in 2012 were women, while 22.2 per cent and 21.6 per cent were female in Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively. Only Azerbaijan had lower female representation than Scotland at 10.5 per cent. Armenia had 21.9 per cent female judges.

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Elsewhere in its report, the CoE said all three UK judicial systems recorded a cut in the public prosecution budget between 2010 and 2012, compared to a Europe-wide average of a 9.8 per cent increase.

And only Switzerland is ahead of the three UK judicial systems in terms of gross annual salary for judges at the Supreme Court or equivalent.

In 2012, the gross annual salary for these judges was eight times the national average gross annual salary in Northern Ireland, 7.8 times in Scotland and 7.7 times in England and Wales - these were the highest figures in Europe, where the average was 4.2.