My local crown court summoned me for jury service on Monday, July 31 (week two of the summer holiday). I applied for deferment because of family commitments and need for holiday time. I was very anxious about losing all or part of my holiday; this is almost certain to have a detrimental effect on both my teaching and my family life.
I was given a second date in October (half-term holiday). I pointed out that this overlooked the reasons for my original deferment (Section 9A of the Jurors Act should therefore not apply) and I received a letter from the jury officer in which he makes it very clear that the dates were deliberately picked to coincide with my holiday. Teachers are not in a position to switch the dates of their holidays and are particularly vulnerable to this kind of encroachment.
The letter states: "We deferred you to the date given in October with a view (to) not inconveniencing your teaching activities in term-time."
This seems well-meaning at first glance, but I suspect that the wording is contrived to make the alternative option to the loss of holiday seem like work evasion. This is establishing a dangerous precedent. Teachers may lose entire holidays without adequate compensation or support. The jury officer can identify teachers after the random summons and target their holiday time (time for long-term planning and marking as well as well-deserved rest).
I find it difficult to accept that I should surrender my hard-earned holiday because the jury officer has deliberately chosen the pre-determined school holiday period. I wonder whether this is a cost-saving exercise or perhaps just the wilful misunderstanding of one individual at the courts?
ANDREW TAYLOR 17 St Leonard's Avenue, Exeter