Another modern change to British society is the rise of homosexuals and people with disturbing moral or psychological behaviours. Prior to the 20th century, such peoples were almost non-existent, but those who fell into this category were held as abominations or freaks of nature and condemned by religion. In our modern 21st century, the people's view of such issues has become much more accepting, due in part to a weakened hold of religion on them. However, judges of present times are still mostly staunch Protestants who base most of their decisions on the moral values of their religion.
One example of judges being harsh in decision based on moral values can be seen in the case of R v Brown, where sadomasochistic homosexuals were charged and convicted of Assault occasioning bodily harm even though the members claimed that they had consent, and that the video tape which they made in private was never distributed to the public. In a way, law is very much based on morality, but if a judge were to apply decisions influenced entirely by moral or religious values, then justice may be hindered.
The author Albert Camus in his book The Outsider gave an account of a man who was convicted of murder (when in truth he was acting in self-defence) as he did not believe in religion and was held as a threat to society, without being given proper justice. Judges often see themselves as upholders of moral values of society, but as times advance the people's concept of morality may also be different, meaning that judges must also adapt to the tide of change.
By strongly imposing laws based on religion or moral values, disastrous results could occur, for example the Prohibition Act imposed by the US government in the 1920's to stop people from buying alcohol, which resulted in even more illegal supplies of alcohol in the country. In a way, the judiciary is still quite conservative and morally bound, and this may prevent the judiciary from facing the challenges of the 21st century.
As Britain advanced to the 21st century, it also saw the increase of ethnic minorities migrating to the nation. Hence, the UK can be seen as a much pluralistic society than before. However, the majority (in fact almost 99%) of judges are still white, and this may affect the way ethnic minorities are judged in the UK. Most judges are born in the 1930's a time when Britain was still a great colonial power with a vast empire stretching over the world and incorporating many different races.
In fact, during the height of Britain's colonial might, only one eighth of the empire's citizens were white, and those whites did not particularly view the other races with respect. Rudyard Kipling's 1889 poem "take up the white man's burden. Send forth the best ye breed – go bind your sons to exile to serve your captives need" clearly shows the attitude of the whites at that time. The whites of South Africa (once a British colony) even went to the extreme of setting up the apartheid system.
Clearly they viewed themselves as superior to the other races that were only captives in their mind. Furthermore it is important to note that the decline of the British Empire is a recent event, and many of the judges today were part of that era. As such they may still hold those views when dealing with ethnic minorities, and give biased judgements. In light of the current changes to the concept of women, morality and society, the judiciary can't really be considered as being up to the challenge posed by those changes.
This is justified by the report of judicial offices up to 1st March 2003, which stated that for judicial offices from that of High Court judges and above there are 6 female high court judges compared to 107 male high court judges, 3 female Lord Justices of Appeal compared to 36 male Lord Justices of Appeal, 1 female Head of divisions compared to 5 male Heads of divisions and no female Lords of Appeal in ordinary. Ethnic minorities do not hold any of the listed offices at all. One can hardly imagine how with a judiciary composed mostly of white males could deal with and sympathize with issues concerning women and ethnic minorities.
However, these problems can be easily dealt with by introducing younger judges more liberal and open to new ideas, appointing more female judges to improve sexual equality, allowing more non-white judges into the judiciary (not just allowing them to serve as magistrates), or appointing judges who are open to different cultural and social values of other races. One other problem concerning judges is that they are from the upper middle-class and are very well paid (146000 for high court judges).
This results in judges being unable to understand the plight of poorer peoples. For example a judge earning over 100000 would never truly understand the reason why a defendant earning 1000 would fall back on his loan payments. Hence introducing more judges from the lower middle class, or those who came from poorer conditions would ensure that the poorer classes could have a more understanding judge for their trials. In this way, the judiciary will be truly able to cope with the social, moral, gender and economic complexities of the 21st century.