'Strong levels of disenchantment' among UK judges, survey reveals

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Very few UK judges feel valued by the Government or the media, according to a survey.

More than 40% of judges questioned in a UK Judicial Attitude Survey said they felt valued by the public.

But two in 100 felt valued by the Government and three in 100 felt valued by the media, results showed.

The survey was conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL).

"These findings reflect a deep commitment to their job by virtually all salaried judges despite strong levels of disenchantment," the survey summary said.

"Judges feel most valued by their judicial colleagues ...

"Almost half of judges feel valued by the public, but very few feel valued by the UK Government or media."

Researchers said salaried judges in English and Welsh court and UK tribunals had been surveyed.

There had been a "near universal" response rate - with 99% of judges taking part in the survey, said researchers.

More than 75% of those questioned felt that their working conditions had deteriorated since 2014.

More than 60% rated the morale of court staff as "poor", and some 40% said the amount of administrative support they received was "poor".

Over 40% said the maintenance of their building was "poor".

Just over 50% had concerns for their personal safety in court and nearly 40% had concerns for their safety outside court.

And 15% had concerns related to social media.

The report said salary and pension issues had "clearly had a detrimental effect on judicial morale".

Nearly 80% of judges said their net earnings had dropped over the past two years.

More than 60% said they had been affected by pension changes, and three in four felt that their pay and pension entitlement did not adequately reflect the work they had done and would do.

More than half thought the amount of "out-of-hours" work they were required to do was affecting them.

Just over 40% said they would step down from the bench if it was a "viable option".

"Almost all judges - 90% - feel their job has changed since they were first appointed in ways that affect them," said the survey summary.

"A majority of judges are most concerned by ... staff reductions, judicial morale, increase in litigants in person, fiscal constraints, stressful working conditions, ability to attract the best people to the judiciary and loss of judicial independence."

The summary added: "A large proportion of the salaried judiciary say they might consider leaving the judiciary early over the next five years."