Ian Gascoigne

JUDGES and magistrates are to be trained in women's issues and the problems faced by disabled people, the Judicial Studies Board (JSB) has announced.

The JSB's 16-member Ethnic Minorities Advisory Committee (EMAC) is to be transformed into the Equal Treatment Advisory Committee (ETAC) with a widened scope to tackle judicial ignorance of minorities appearing in the courts.

EMAC chairman Mr Justice Dyson said ETAC would be formed in the next two months with the existing EMAC membership plus four new members who will be appointed on the criteria that they are "interested in the area, sensitive and keen to make a contribution".

Dyson, speaking at the JSB's London headquarters at the publication of a report for the period since 1995, stressed there would be "no dilution" of the JSB's commitment to ethnic minority issues, which would remain the "dominant element" of the committee's work.

ETAC will organise training and seminars on the treatment of minorities in courts. Dyson and Karamjit Singh, the vice-chair of EMAC and a commissioner on the Criminal Cases Review Commission, will continue their roles in the new committee.

The JSB, which trains circuit and district judges and stipendiary magistrates, has introduced seminars on areas such as child abuse and the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Legal Action Group head of policy Vicki Chapman said she welcomed the JSB's widened recognition of discrimination but hoped that its work on cultural awareness would not suffer as a result.