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Under Sheriff of Dorset

Katharine Jones, Under Sheriff of Dorset

| Published on February 28, 2017

Katharine Jones, Under Sheriff of Dorset


Katharine Jones, Partner at Humphries Kirk LLP solicitors’ based in Dorchester and Crewkerne, has been the Under Sheriff of Dorset for the past six years.

The role of the Under Sheriff is as legal advisor and to support the High Sheriff, whose office is an independent, non-political royal appointment for a single year.

The origins of the office of High Sheriff date back to Saxon times when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the King for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. Today the role is purely a ceremonial role; High Sheriffs continue to support the Crown and the Judiciary as well as actively lending support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency service, and the voluntary sector.

Each High Sheriff is required to appoint an Under Sheriff annually, although it is quite common for an Under Sheriff to serve for a number of years, providing continuity between High Sheriffs. The Under Sheriff can advise, support, and act as a point of contact for the High Sheriff.

Historically, the Under Sheriff would carry out most of the ‘day job’ of the High Sheriff and, as recently as 2003, Under Sheriffs enforced High Court Judgements in their County with the High Sheriff employing a team of bailiffs to do so. The law then changed and responsibility of enforcement of High Court Judgments now rests with High Court Enforcement Officers.

The High Sheriff has the power and duty to make payments to people who, in view of a Crown Court Judge, should receive a monetary award for their role in the apprehension of offenders. The Under Sheriff, who receives the notification of such awards, arranges payment.

The Under Sheriff helps with the co-ordination and organisation of certain ‘set piece’ events during the year, such as the installation of the High Sheriff, the High Sheriff’s legal service, any award ceremonies, and the High Sheriff’s annual garden party.

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