MA National Conference


Saturday 19 October 2019


At the conference you will have the opportunity to network with magistrates from around the country; hear from key figures in law, government, and the criminal justice system; participate in thought-provoking breakout sessions; and meet MA officers and staff. We have also introduced new conference features, including topical panel discussions and lightning talks!

The theme of this year's conference is THE CHANGING FACE OF JUSTICE.

Please join us for an interactive look at the future of the magistracy against the backdrop of the wider justice system.

Lightning talks

As part of this year's exciting revamp, the conference will feature lightning talks. These are a series of short, fast-paced talks followed by a short Q&A. Anyone – MA member, representative of a key stakeholder, member of the public – may request the opportunity to speak for six minutes on any topic of interest to them.

You may apply to do this via a short form, explaining the topic, why you are qualified to speak on it and why you think it will be of interest to attendees. We will review submissions and select the most interesting and appropriate. If you would like to apply to give a talk, please fill in this submission form or contact the events team at

NB The deadline for lightning talk submissions is 28 July. 

Keynote Speakers

Speakers will be added as they are confirmed. Please check below and MA ENEWS for updates.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division

Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family DivisionSir Andrew McFarlane became the President of the Family Division on 28 July 2018. He was called to the Bar in 1977 and took Silk (Queen's Counsel) in 1998. He was appointed a Recorder in 1995, a Deputy High Court Judge in 2000 and a High Court Judge in the Family Division in 2005.

He co-wrote Children Law and Practice which coincided with the enactment of the Children Act 1989 in 1991, and he has been noted for his speeches and lectures around the country on all aspects of child law.

His expertise resulted in his selection as the only legal member of the Family Justice Review (Norgrove) and as the judicial representative for the current sector-led review financed by the Nuffield. The review is due to report this summer.

Sir Andrew has held or holds leadership posts including Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, Chairman of the Clergy Discipline Commission and President of the Clergy Disciplines Tribunals. He was Family Division Liaison Judge for the Midland circuit until his appointment as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2011 where he is the Supervising Lord Justice for Family Cases.

He will be sharing his views on the current challenges facing the family justice system and what future reforms may be required.


Panel 1. The changing face of the magistracy: 60 minutes

An exploration of the issues around recruiting full and part time employees to the magistracy, as well as representation of marginalised communities within the magistracy. Of particular interest will be young magistrates, the LGBTQIA community and those with disabilities. The session will also consider how these challenges vary by location - for example rural and urban communities - and how recruitment can ensure a representative magistracy across adult, family and youth court jurisdictions.

Confirmed speakers for this session

Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive and Board member, HM Courts & Tribunals Service

Susan Acland-HoodSusan was previously the Director of Enterprise and Growth at HM Treasury where she was responsible for policies on productivity, growth, business, infrastructure, exports, competition and markets, and for energy and transport spending. Prior to that, she spent two years as Director of Education Funding at the Department for Education, overseeing the comprehensive reform of the capital programme. Susan has also worked extensively on home affairs and justice policy, both at Number 10 and in the Home Office. She has also had senior roles in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and in the Social Exclusion Unit.

As Chief Executive of HMCTS, she is responsible is responsible for overall leadership, the delivery of services, and strategy and vision for the organisation.

Karen Quinn: Chair of Triple A (All About Autism)

Karen Quinn, Chair of Triple A (All About Autism)Karen Quinn joined the West London Bench in 2010 before transferring to the North and West Cumbria Bench in 2016.

Since 2015, Karen has worked as a Senior Project Manager for the National Autistic Society (NAS). She is responsible for the project delivery and re-provision of services across NAS's adult and education services. Prior to this, Karen served as an Officer in the Royal Air Force and was deployed on operations. Karen has an MA (Hons) degree in Social Policy and Law and an MSc in European Social Policy and Law. Outside of work Karen is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Triple A (All About Autism) – a charity that provides a pathway of support for autistic adults focussing on criminal and social justice as well as social support.

As an autistic person, Karen is passionate about helping raise awareness and working towards reducing the inequalities and challenges faced by autistic individuals. She hopes that her experience as a magistrate with an autism diagnosis can help highlight the issues faced by autistic people as they attempt to navigate the criminal and justice system.

Panel 2. Interactions between inequality and justice: 60 minutes

An exploration of how a range of factors such as race, class, and gender may shape or determine differences in the way individuals interact with both criminal and family courts.

The panel will look at how inequality impacts on offending, victimisation, case processing, and outcomes, as well as how family issues are dealt with; how to address disparities in various phases of the judicial process (e.g. arrest, sentencing, and family hearings) and pathways into offending and victimisation; and discuss ways to engage more critically in how the justice system embodies, perpetuates, and transforms existing social inequalities such as race, class, and gender.

Confirmed speakers for this session

Dr Alpa Parmar

Alpa ParmarDr Alpa Parmar read Social and Political Sciences as an undergraduate at Cambridge and also completed her doctorate at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, in which she empirically examined perceptions of Asian criminality in the UK. Her PhD was part of the Peterborough Adolescent Development Study which is an ongoing longitudinal project in the UK.

Following completion of her PhD, Alpa held a British Academy Postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Law at King's College London during which she researched police stop and search practices under the Terrorism Act 2000 and the consequences of counter-terrorist polices for minority ethnic groups - particularly British Asian people. Theoretically her research considers the implications of security practices upon notions of belonging and ethnic identity, and experiences of multi-cultural citizenry. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Alpa was a visiting scholar at Berkeley, University of California, at which time she conducted a comparative policing study on stop and search and stop and frisk. Her book Crime and the Asian Community is forthcoming (Oxford University Press) and her recent publications include 'Configuring Ethnic Identities: resistance as a response to counter-terrorist policy' (2014) in New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime. Alpa's research focuses on the intersections between race, gender and criminalization and her current research projects explore the policing of migration in the UK and minority ethnic life stories of offending. Alpa is also interested in the intersection of securitization and race its consequences for people crossing borders across the world.

Alpa was appointed as a non-judicial member of the Sentencing Council in April 2018. The Sentencing Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice which has responsibility for developing sentencing guidelines.

Katrina Ffrench: Chief Executive of Stopwatch

Katrina Ffrench, Chief Executive of StopwatchKatrina was appointed in May 2018 as StopWatch's first chief executive. StopWatch is a research and action organisation that promotes fair, effective and accountable policing – specifically around the use of stop and search. Since being in post Katrina has overseen the publication of Being Matrixed: the (over)policing of gang suspects in London, The Colour of Injustice: 'Race', drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales, and Call It Off Are police searching mobile phones illegally?

Katrina read Social and Political Science at the University of Cambridge and graduated in 2009. Studying Social and Political Sciences at university further fuelled her interest in law, politics, psychology and sociology. Katrina possesses a great understanding about the interconnectedness and complexities of these areas. She is passionate about youth work, social equality and criminal justice. She enjoys assisting people with their personal development and identifying ways to enhance their life.

During her professional career, Katrina has worked for multiple charities and local authorities, gaining a wealth of political and charitable experience. Since 2015 Katrina has actively volunteered her time to provide community scrutiny to the policing power of stop and search; she was the chair of the Islington Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group for three years. Katrina has experience of sitting on local community partnerships and was an executive member of the Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board. She has also held the vice-chair and chair positions on the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime Pan-London Stop and Search Community Monitoring Network.

Polly Harrar, Founder of The Sharan Project

Polly Harrar, Founder of The Sharan ProjectThe Sharan Project is a registered national charity supporting South Asian women in the UK who have been or are at risk of being disowned/ostracised by their families or communities due to harmful practices to include, but not limited to forced marriage, honour based abuse, domestic violence and cultural conflict.

Polly has been supporting women for over 20 years and has extensive experience of the wide range of harmful practices faced by women and the barriers and challenges they face in seeking support. She has personally supported over 500 women on issues ranging from forced marriage, homelessness, asylum and immigration matters, honour based abuse (HBA), persecution due to sexual orientation, domestic violence, child protection, repatriation, female genital mutilation, mental health, substance misuse and cultural conflict.

As a recognised expert in her field, Polly is often called upon to deliver training, workshops and talks as well as give evidence as a court expert on forced marriages and honour based abuse. She is a member of the Forced Marriage Unit Partnership Board, panel member for the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry looking into child sexual abuse within the familial environment and lead partner of the national Our Girl campaign funded by Comic Relief.

In 2013 Polly was highly commended at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards for her social and humanitarian work, and named in the Independent on Sunday's 100 Happy List. In 2015, she was recognised at the IKWRO True Honour Award for her work to prevent honour based abuse, nominated for the English Asian Business Awards and the National Diversity Awards and received the GG2 Spirit in the Community Award. She was recently presented with the Points of Light award by former Prime Minister David Cameron on International Women's Day 2016 for her charitable work, awarded Charity Initiative of the Year at the British Indian Awards, Diva of Colour and Lift Effects Top 100 Star Awards.

BREAKOUTS – 60 minutes each

1. Stalking: led by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Suzy Lamplugh Trust logoThe Suzy Lamplugh Trust was founded by Diana and Paul Lamplugh following the disappearance of their daughter Suzy, a young estate agent, in 1986. Since then, the Trust has pioneered personal safety as a life skill and a public policy priority.

The mission of the Trust is to raise awareness of personal safety through training and various projects, to help people avoid becoming victims of aggression, and to offer counselling and support to relatives and friends of missing people. The Trust runs the UK's National Stalking Helpline and organises National Personal Safety Day.

2. Mental Health: led by the Sentencing Council

Sentencing Council logoThe Sentencing Council for England and Wales was set up to promote greater transparency and consistency in sentencing, while maintaining the independence of the judiciary. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Ministry of Justice and replaced the Sentencing Guidelines Council and the Sentencing Advisory Panel in April 2010.

The primary role of the Council is to issue guidelines on sentencing which the courts must follow unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so.

3. What is the role of the courts in responding to social/societal problems?

This session will look at the trend towards the criminalisation of activities that would previously not have been regarded as crimes, including issues around hate crime online and freedom of speech, coercive and controlling behaviour, substance abuse and so on.

Confirmed speakers for this session

Mary Ryan, Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (biography to follow)

Professor Peter Squires, Institute of Criminal Justice Research (biography to follow)

Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation

Phil BowenPhil sets and leads the work and overall strategy of the Centre for Justice Innovation. Prior to this role, Phil spent the majority of his career in the British civil service. He worked for the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, before working at HM Treasury and Cabinet Office as a delivery adviser to the Prime Minister on criminal justice reform. During his time in the civil service, he spent 14 months on secondment to the Center for Court Innovation in New York, working at Bronx Community Solutions.

He will be speaking about problem solving courts in criminal justice, with a particular focus on the role of judges in monitoring community sentences, and how that can benefit the effectiveness of community sentences in addressing underlying causes of offending.

4. Innovations and technology in justice

This session will look at the future of technology in the UK, exploring its potential impact on magistrates and the justice system as a whole.

Confirmed speakers for this session

Dr Paul Dawson, Head of Research at Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) (biography to follow)

Event programme



11:00 Welcome and introduction to the morning session
11:05 Panel: The changing face of the magistracy
12:05 Keynote Speaker 1
12:35 Lunch
13:20 Breakouts set 1: Sentencing Council AND Suzy Lamplugh Trust led sessions
14:20 Breakouts set 2: What is the role of the courts in tackling social problems? AND Innovations and technology in justice
15:20 Break
15:30 Panel: Interactions between inequality and justice
16:30 Keynote Speaker 2
17:00 Close