Sun | Sep 24, 2023

Trelawny to increase JPs due to demand for service

Published:Wednesday | March 9, 2022 | 12:09 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
Hugh Gentles.
Hugh Gentles.


TRELAWNY’S COHORT of 240 justices of the peace (JPs) is set to be increased in the first quarter of 2022. Custos Hugh Gentles, installed in February 2021, informed The Gleaner that greater demand for services has led to this undertaking.

“Increasingly, many documents require the stamp and signature of a justice,” said Gentles, adding that “in Trelawny a lot of pressure is brought on to those who are willing to volunteer their service at any time”.

In providing more detail, Gentles explained that their numbers have also dwindled because of several factors, including the fact that some justices have moved abroad or to other places in Jamaica, while others have aged to a point where they have lost familiarity with the younger generation in their communities.

“A number of those on the list have migrated. The migration is not just out of the island, but also out of the parish,” the custos explained. “This fact is coupled with some serving justices who have matured age-wise and are not familiar with people of a certain age.”

Senior JP, 87-year-old Rennie Black, who has been serving for 30 years, addressed this situation.

Black said: “Some grandparents who I know bring their grandchild for me to sign documents. I cannot sign because knowing the grandparent is not a gateway to knowing the child.”


While there are stipulations from the ministry for justices of the peace to strictly adhere the policy of attaching a stamp of approval to documents of persons with whom they are familiar, regulations were relaxed to beef up service.

It was disclosed by Gentles that recently, a change has been occasioned on how justices of the peace are recognised, which gives authority to act within any jurisdiction.

“No longer are you a justice for a parish,” he stated. “You are now a justice of Jamaica.”

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck reinforced the validity of that move as he expressed a desire to have “one justice to 100 citizens”.

Devon Brown, chairman of the Clark’s Town Lay Magistrates Association, commented on Chuck’s desire.

“We have recommended a number of residents under 40 (years old),” he said.

“In addition to this, a number of persons have applied. The process to have them installed is ongoing,” Brown disclosed.

Superintendent Carlos Russell told The Gleaner the police run background checks on persons recommended to serve.

“A sergeant has been assigned to carry out the necessary checks on those whose names have been submitted by Custos Gentles,” Superintendent Russell advised.

The custos said that though a timeline was not given, the next batch to be installed should not take long.

“In addition to the completion of the character checks, King’s House makes the final decision,” Gentles said. “But I expect that it won’t be long before a new set of justices will be installed.”