National Officers

The MA is a member-led organisation with a National Chair supported by two Deputy Chairs and an Honorary Treasurer. Together they provide the leadership for the organisation


Bev Higgs - MA Chair

Beverley Higgs JP 

My career began in advertising in London but an interest in film and media took me to London Weekend Television (LWT). I worked in news and features where I learnt a great deal about media from the inside! I became the first equal opportunities officer at LWT, reporting to the board on issues of inclusion and diversity in the workplace and our relations with the London community.

Following a human resources career path, more recently I was the chief executive officer of a Citizens Advice Bureau. Although relatively small and rural we handled over 10,000 enquiries a year providing debt, housing and benefits assistance. We had outreach programmes in a domestic violence refuge and a local prison. The transferable knowledge to the magistracy was hugely valuable. It was my responsibility to attract, train and retain our volunteers. I was also elected to the Citizens Advice Bureau National Board of Trustees. I was appointed to the magistracy in 2005 and became a presiding justice three years later. Subsequently, I carried out a similar role in a restorative justice (RJ) partnership. I trained volunteers to become RJ practitioners and later trained the trainers. This gave me an important insight into RJ and its potential in the criminal justice system (CJS).

I came to academia later in life and have a first class (Hons) BSc in social science, social policy and media; a BA (Hons) 2:1 in politics, philosophy and history; and an MA with distinction from Kings College London, in criminology and criminal justice, where I majored in sentencing policy and racism in the CJS, transnational crime and policing. This was followed by a postdoctoral research diploma that considered the subject of civic voluntarism or ‘participatory democracy’ and the ‘trust contract’ between CJS organisations and volunteers. Specifically, I looked at the training of JPs, special police constables and RJ practitioners.

I have sat on the Training Committee of the MA for three years, on the Board of Trustees for five years, taking a special interest in the reform programme. My term of office as Chair of the MA will be for three years.

I currently work full-time as a house and building project manager and sit on the Avon, Somerset and Gloucester Bench.


Mark Beattie JP FBCS
Deputy Chair

National experience

Mark has previously served as Chair of the Central and North London Branch of the MA, an MA regional representative for London and is the past chair of the MA Training Committee. He joined the Board of Trustees in May 2017, to fill a casual vacancy, before being elected to the position in November 2017. He has taken the lead on the new appraisal scheme for magistrates on behalf of the MA. He was elected Deputy Chair at the MA AGM on 17 October 2020.

Magisterial experience

Mark was appointed to the Camden and Islington Bench, based at Highbury Corner, in 2006. Shortly after the creation of the North London Bench, Mark became Chair of the Training and Development Committee for four years and went on to Chair the London Magistrates' Area Training Committee for two years. He was elected as Bench Chair for North London in 2015 and completed his term in April 2018. He sits as a Court Chair in both Adult and Youth jurisdictions.

Other experience and background

Mark's day job is as Head of Central Services for LondonEnergy Ltd, a renewable energy and recycling company based in North London.

Mark has been a Trustee of the Student's Union at the University of Southampton. He serves on the Registration and Standard Committee of the British Computer Society (BCS). In 2016 the BCS awarded Mark with its 'Meritorious Service Award', in recognition of his service 'across several areas of the Institute's activities'.


Alison Spurgeon-Dickson - Deputy Chairman

Alison Spurgeon-Dickson JP
Deputy Chair

National experience

Alison has been a member of the MA since her appointment in 2005. In 2012 she presented research to the MA. She was appointed to the MA Training Committee in 2013. She served on the Board of Trustees from January 2016 until the MA AGM on 18 November 2017 when she was elected Deputy Chair.

Magisterial experience

Alison was appointed as a magistrate in 2005. She joined Magistrates in the Community (MIC) in 2008. In 2010 she qualified as a bench chair. Between 2010-2014 she was a member of the Cumbria combined family panel. From 2013-2015 she undertook the role of Deputy Chair of Furness and District bench. Since 2015 she has served as Deputy Chair of the South Cumbria bench.

Other experience and background

Through her work as a senior lecturer at the University of Cumbria, as a chartered psychologist, as a prison researcher, employment in HM prison service and voluntary work in prisons and young offender institutes Alison has gained a good level of understanding of what sentences are designed to achieve, and their relative effectiveness in preventing re-offending. Her current lecturing in forensic psychology focuses upon community and custodial sentences, risk assessment and risk management, and the efficacy of offending behaviour programmes, which gives her a clear, critical, and detailed understanding of offender populations, such as mentally disordered offenders, female offenders and violent offenders. Her role as a magistrate together with her professional role give her insight and understanding of policy and practice related to the working of courts and decision-making processes.

Alison hopes to contribute her knowledge and experience to significant matters of the Board, such as expansion of the MA's operations into new activities, particularly in light of the current review of the role of the magistracy.

She is married with two adult children – enjoys music, architecture, and living in the Lake District.