Over-65s become eligible for jury service
Changes to jury selection rules see the upper age limit scrapped.
Pensioners have become eligible for jury service for the first time on Monday as the Scottish Government attempts to modernise the system.
The upper age limit of 65 for jurors, which was raised from 60 in 1980, is to be scrapped and replaced with a right of excusal for anyone aged 71 and over.
There will be no absolute age limit on jurors, although people aged over 70 who are called for jury service will have the right to be excused right up until the day the trial begins.
The move, which was unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament, is aimed at ending age discrimination and relieving the burden of jury service on people of working age.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: "Scotland’s jury service system was outdated, ageist and in need of modernisation.
“Scotland’s over 65s have a wealth of life experience and perspective which they can bring to the jury benches, strengthening the juries on which our criminal justice system depends.
“The idea that they should be debarred from taking part in jury duty was frankly ridiculous, insulting and it is time for change.
“This change in the law will remove a clear discrimination and help change attitudes. It will also bring operational benefits, enlarging the pool of potential jurors for Scotland’s courts.”
David Manion, chief executive of Age Scotland, welcomed the change.
He said: “It is inescapably ageist to have an upper age limit for jurors. It implies that anyone above that age is incapable of fulfilling their civic duties, something that is categorically not true."
The reforms will also see the period reduced for which people can be excused jury service if they are called up but not selected for a trial.
The current exemption period will be cut from five years to two.