The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year.
When a High Sheriff comes into office part of the solemn declaration they make is to “ faithfully support the Judiciary and all who maintain the Kings Peace, administer justice and protect and support their fellow citizens.”
The role is unpaid and no expenses are reimbursed. For this reason, there is no set framework of duties and the modern High Sheriff is very much what the individual makes of it and each incumbent will wish to shape his or her year of office as they see fit.
The principal formal duties of High Sheriffs today include attendance at royal visits in the County and support for Her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on Circuit. The High Sheriff offers encouragement to those supporting the charity and voluntary sectors and actively encourages crime prevention. The key to the role is to uphold and enhance the ancient office while making a meaningful contribution to the county of Leicestershire.
- The key elements of the role can be summarised as follows:
- To lend active support to the principal organs of the constitution within the county - the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police and other law enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, and church and faith groups;
- To take an active part in supporting and promoting the voluntary sector and giving all possible encouragement to voluntary organisations within the county, particularly those involved with crime reduction and social cohesion;
- To ensure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges, to attend on them at Court and to offer them hospitality;
- To make a meaningful contribution to the county during the year of Office and to uphold and enhance the ancient Office of High Sheriff;
- To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and on other occasions as appropriate;
- To serve as Returning Officer at general and local elections within the county and having responsibility for the Proclamation of the accession of a new Sovereign.
The origins of the Office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the Sovereign 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, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year. Whilst the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the role today and the High Sheriff remains the Sovereign’s representative in the County for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. In addition, High Sheriffs actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector.
The holder of the Office of High Sheriff can be well placed to offer encouragement to those in their county who are engaged in supporting the voluntary sector and those most in need. The High Sheriff gives their own personal awards to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in some way. As the Office is independent and non-political, High Sheriffs are able to bring together a wide range of people within the community they serve.