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MA ENEWS 30 January 2020

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30 January 2020
MA ENEWS 30 January 2020

Launch of Becoming a Presiding Justice workbook and e-learning modules

The MA’s Training Committee and the Judicial College have jointly updated the Becoming a Presiding Justice workbook (previously known as Taking the Chair) and created new e-learning modules. The workbook and modules are based on the additional competence specifically for presiding justices, Competence 4: Managing judicial decision-making.

The modules are intended for those who are thinking about becoming a presiding justice, ahead of taking part in formal training. They would also be a good refresher for existing presiding justices, and some of the skills (for example, using communication skills and working with colleagues) would also be relevant for wingers.

Both the workbook and the e-learning modules are intended to be flexible, and you do not need to progress through them in a linear way. Instead, you can select whichever modules you feel would be most helpful for you to learn about first. The e-learning modules also include specific sections at the end of each module for family and youth magistrates.

They cover the following topics:

  • The role of the presiding justice
  • Working with colleagues
  • Key communication skills
  • Making effective decisions


The modules are available on the Judicial College LMS, and can be accessed by clicking this link, or by going to the Judicial College LMS tile on eJudiciary, then selecting Magistrates > Magistrates Court inc Family > Resources > Becoming a Presiding Justice. Make sure you have allowed pop-ups for the Judicial College so that the e-learning can open in a new window. They are also available from the membership section of MA website. Once you have logged in, you can find them in the Training section.

The Training Committee welcomes your feedback, so please feel free to email Jude Zendle if you have any queries.

MA survey on the use of the Modern Slavery Act's Section 45 defence

Back view of girl looking out of bedroom windowThe MA has been contacted by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who is running a call for evidence on the use of the Modern Slavery Act’s Section 45 statutory defence.

The call for evidence has been launched following prosecuting and defence parties in the criminal justice sector raising issues as to the use of this defence and the processes in place to address this once raised. It invites anyone with practical experience and knowledge of cases involving use of the Section 45 defence to respond. In particular, the Commissioner is interested in:

  • Cases where the statutory defence has been raised, and addressed satisfactorily
  • Cases where the defence has been raised, and has not been dealt with appropriately
  • Cases where, with the benefit of hindsight, the statutory defence should or could have been raised


In order to inform the MA’s response to the call for evidence, we are asking members who currently sit in the adult or youth court to complete this survey exploring magistrates’ experience of the Section 45 defence being raised in court. The survey takes just five minutes to complete.

HM Prison and Probation Judicial Survey – have your say

Have your say graphicThe HM Prison and Probation Judicial Survey is now open to all members of the judiciary across England and Wales. It is an opportunity for you to give feedback directly to HM Prison and Probation Service and the Ministry of Justice. The results of the survey will be shared within the department, including central policy teams and senior officials.

The survey includes questions relating to your experience of probation providers, ie probation advice to courts, enforcement and breach, and the quality of pre-sentence reports. As you are aware, the government’s response to the public consultation Strengthening probation, building confidence set out plans for the future of probation services; some of those have already been implemented but more work is yet to be done.

In future the National Probation Service (NPS) will manage all offenders who are on a community order or license following their release from prison. In Wales this change has already been implemented – since December 2019 all offender management has been carried out by the NPS. The changes in Wales have gone very well and the findings will pave the way for a successful transition throughout England.

Responses from this judicial survey will be shared with the Probation Programme team to assist them with the implementation of the proposed changes. They are keen to keep improving understanding between probation and members of the judiciary so please take a few minutes to have your say – your feedback will be valued.

The 10-minute survey can be accessed via the links below.

English version

Welsh version

The survey closes on Friday 14 February 2020.

New guidance on stalking protection orders issued by the JCS

Young woman in street with male figure behind herThe Justices' Clerks’ Society (JCS) has released guidance on stalking protection orders (SPOs). The orders came into force on 20 January 2020 under the Stalking Protection Act 2019, and can be applied for at the magistrates’ court (or the youth court, if the defendant is under the age of 18). They are civil orders intended to prevent a defendant from carrying out acts associated with stalking. The orders are for a fixed period of at least two years, or an indefinite period.

Applications for orders will be made by the chief officer of police for the area where the defendant lives, or where they may be, or may be intending to come to. The court must be satisfied that all three of the following criteria are met:

  • The defendant has carried out acts which are associated with stalking
  • The defendant poses a risk associated with stalking to another person
  • The order is necessary to protect another person from that risk


The legislation does not define the standard of proof required, but the JCS says that the court must:

  • Determine whether the chief of police has proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that:
  • The defendant has carried out acts associated with stalking; and
  • The defendant poses a risk associated with stalking to another person
  • If it so determines, then evaluate whether an SPO is necessary to protect a person from that risk


The orders will be composed of prohibitions and requirements. Examples of prohibitions include:

  • Entering locations where the victim lives or visits
  • Contacting the victim (whether directly or via third parties)


Examples of requirements include:

  • Attending assessment of suitability for treatment
  • Attending a perpetrator intervention programme


Interim orders may also be made, pending the outcome of an application for an SPO, where there is an urgent risk of harm. These may be made ‘if [the court] considers it appropriate to do so’.

Retired magistrates are very welcome at the MA!

Two members at an MA retired members' eventWe sometimes hear from members who think they have to cancel their membership because they are retiring from the magistracy. We are very keen to correct this misconception, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

We currently have thousands of retired magistrates as members, who pay a reduced annual membership rate of £37.50. Subsequent to stepping down from the bench, they have chosen to remain MA members and continue to play active roles within their branches, ranging from sitting on branch executives, to delivering the Magistrates in the Community programme, to attending our well-received speaker-led retired member events.

Our popular events for retired members include regional events; the first of which was held in Liverpool in October 2019, as well as the very well attended London based ones. We regularly feature retired members in MAGISTRATE, in both Members’ Spotlight and other features, and hope this is a good way for retired members to keep in touch with everything magisterial. Retired members are included in our email news bulletins MA ENEWS and The TRUNK (although there is the choice to opt out for those who prefer not to receive these emails). We provide specific information for retired members, and many branches have retired members’ groups, which meet up on a regular basis (keep an eye on Retired Members’ Notices under Snippets in MAGISTRATE).

Our membership is our strength and retired members are a vital and valuable part of the MA community across the country. This year, as the MA celebrates a fantastic 100 years of serving the magistracy, we also want to celebrate retired JPs. Your years of service and experience are recognised and appreciated by the MA and we will do all we can to continue providing you with relevant information and opportunities.

Sentencing Council consultation on drug offences

Two fists held out with the words 'drug free' written on themThe Sentencing Council has launched a consultation, outlining plans to revise sentencing guidelines for drugs offences.

The consultation aims to review five of the current drug offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to bring them up to date with modern drug offending, and to introduce four guidelines for new offences created by the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Proposed changes include:

  • Introducing new culpability factors for offenders involved in county lines operations
  • Introducing a high culpability factor for ‘cuckooing’ (where offenders exercise control over the home of another person for the supply and production of drugs)
  • The inclusion of new and more powerful drugs such as ‘spice’ and fentanyl in the guidelines


The MA will be submitting a response to the consultation. If you have any comments on the proposed changes, please contact Hattie Stair.

Centre for Justice Innovation briefing on communication in court

Centre for Justice Innovation logoThe Centre of Justice Innovation has launched a new briefing, Improving communication in court: evidence and practice briefing, which looks at how to improve communication in court.

The short briefing highlights the importance of good communication in court promoting overall trust in the justice system, highlighting research into procedural fairness which shows that perceived fair treatment during the court process can be very influential in terms of individuals accepting court decisions and complying with court orders. The briefing highlights that procedural fairness is especially important for particular groups: children and young people, young adults and individuals with experience of trauma.

The briefing gives practical tips on specific ways that communication can be adapted in the courtroom, as well as specifically focusing on reviews and how they can promote perceptions of fairness.

MA Conference, Awards and AGM - SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER 2020 IN LONDON

BOOK BEFORE 31 JULY 2020 FOR EARLY BIRD RATES

Plaisterers' HallTo celebrate the MA’s 100th year, the theme of the conference is LOOKING FORWARD: ANOTHER CENTURY OF EXCELLENCE IN JUSTICE.

Following our most successful conference to date in scenic Stratford-upon-Avon last year, we are delighted to announce that the 2020 Conference, Awards and AGM will take place in the capital for the first time in six years, at Plaisterers’ Hall.

Plaisterers’ Hall, London EC2Y 5JU

Plaisterers’ Hall is the largest and one of the finest livery halls in London. The venue, set within One London Wall, backs on to the remains of the original London Wall, which dates back to the third century when the Romans built it. A fitting setting for an event in the MA’s hundredth year!

Feedback from the 2019 event

95% of attendees rated the overall event as good to excellent

96% rated the awards ceremony as good to excellent

93% rated the dinner as good to excellent

As usual, 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.

Speakers and sessions will be confirmed as soon as they are available in MA ENEWS or on the MA website.

Registration and payment

Please click here to book online.

NB Members attending the AGM only are not required to pay. Please register interest online or by phone.

If you have any issues, please contact the membership team on 020 7388 5558 or at events@magistrates-association.org.uk.

2020 Vision: 100 years of justice

The MA’s first touring art exhibition!

The Magistrate magazine archive copiesThe MA is 100 years old this year and to celebrate we are planning a touring art exhibition exploring the concept of justice, titled 2020 Vision: 100 years of justice. The exhibition will be based on 20 original artworks, commissioned from 20 diverse, contemporary artists and will travel to four cities: Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and London.

The exhibition will be both a retrospective view of 100 years of the history of justice in the UK and a gaze into the future, underpinned by interactive workshops delivered by the artists, MIC presentations delivered by MA branches and talks from a range of experts drawn from government, academia and the third sector.

Back issues of MAGISTRATE magazine chart 100 years in justice and contain a living history of the life and times of England and Wales. This has served as the inspiration for our themes, which are:

  • Rights of the child  
  • Gender and the justice system
  • The role of prison in society
  • Ownership of information
  • Race and criminal justice
  • LGBTQIA+ rights 
  • Freedom of expression  
  • Freedom of association
  • Victims’ rights
  • The concept of justice


The project will comprise three parts:

  • The last 100 years: artwork by 10 artists, inspired by the themes above, exploring key developments of the last century.
  • The next 100 years: 10 artists showcasing their visions for the future of justice, inspired by the themes above.
  • The present: interactive, participatory workshops, talks and MIC presentations, delivered by artists, magistrates and experts from government and the third sector.
     

Tour dates for 2020 Vision: 100 years of justice

Date

City

 Venue 

13-29 August

Manchester

Creative Art Gallery at Hope Mill

3-19 September

Birmingham

Centrala

24 September - 10 October

Cardiff

To be confirmed

15-24 October

London

D Contemporary


Look out for a more detailed article on our exhibition in the February-March 2020 issue of MAGISTRATE.

Help The Big Legal Lesson reach thousands of school students during Justice Week 2020

Young Citizens The Big Legal Lesson logoJustice Week takes place from 24-28 February and is an opportunity to boost the profile of justice and the rule of law, placing these issues centre-stage in public and political debate. Young Citizens (the charity many magistrates work with to deliver the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition) is leading The Big Legal Lesson during the week – and is urging schools to sign up to teach a legal lesson to their students. They've created a special lesson, ‘An Introduction to the Law’, with different primary and secondary school versions.

Through The Big Legal Lesson, Young Citizens wants to draw attention to the importance of every young person learning about the legal justice system and the rule of law at school. This can happen through effective citizenship education in all schools.

What you can do to help

Here are three steps you can take:

  1. Encourage schools you have links with perhaps through Magistrates in the Community, as a parent/carer, or governor to take part in The Big Legal LessonThey can sign up using this link: www.youngcitizens.org/news/is-your-school-joining-the-big-legal-lesson
  2. Promote The Big Legal Lesson via social media using the hashtags #JusticeWeek and #TheBigLegalLesson. They are regularly posting about the campaign through the @youngcitizensuk Twitter account and the @youngcitizens Facebook page, so please share these.
  3. Spread the word and let friends and colleagues know. You can download a briefing about The Big Legal Lesson and how it links with Justice Week here.


In the meantime, Young Citizens is also seeking more magistrates to volunteer at local heats of the wonderful Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial competition. If you’re interested, please fill in the form here and they’ll put you in touch with your local heat organiser.

Joint inspection into evidence led domestic abuse prosecutions

Woman holds her hand up in defenceHM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services have published a joint report on evidence led domestic abuse cases.

The inspection involved looking at 160 magistrates’ court domestic abuse files from four Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) areas, and interviews with the police, CPS National Domestic Abuse Leads, the CPS National Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy Manager, and managers and domestic abuse leads from the police and CPS.

It was found that while domestic abuse is recognised as a priority area of work in both the police and CPS, there was not enough consideration given to prosecuting a case when a victim withdraws their support. They found that neither the police nor the CPS can distinguish those cases where an evidence led approach may be more effective. There are currently no mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of evidence led prosecutions, meaning there is no opportunity to learn lessons and share good practice across organisations.

The report concludes that the handling of evidence led domestic abuse prosecutions requires improvement, and makes several recommendations for the police and the CPS.

You can read the National Chair of the MA’s statement on the report here and the full report can be found here

Filming to be allowed in crown courts

Video cameraIt has been announced that new legislation will allow TV cameras to film in crown courts in high-profile criminal cases across England and Wales for the first time. The filming will be restricted to the sentencing remarks of the judge, with no one else involved in the trial (such as victims, witnesses, jurors, lawyers or defendants) being filmed. It is envisaged that the sentencing remarks will be used in later news broadcasts, with full sentencing remarks hosted on a public website. All crown court staff involved in the relevant cases will receive training and new guidance.

The legislation, which is expected to take three months to progress through parliament, has been welcomed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, who said ‘It is important that the justice system and what happens in our courts is as transparent as possible’, adding that he hoped the broadcasting of remarks would improve public understanding.

The announcement was made days after Sir Terence Etherton MR, Master of the Rolls and the second most senior judge in England and Wales, called for family cases which reach the court of appeal to be broadcast online to dispel fears about judicial prejudice or bias. Speaking at an event organised by the UK Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, he stated that ‘The motive for live-streaming is people should be able to see how we are doing our job’.

It has been a criminal offence to film or sketch in court in England and Wales since 1925; however, it has been permissible in Scotland since 1992, where the first filming of a sentencing took place in 2012.

Judicial Office organises School’s Question Time event

Young girl speaker at School's Question TimeThe Judicial Office’s diversity team held a School’s Question Time event, in collaboration with the National Justice Museum and the charity Young Citizens.

The event was held in the Royal Courts of Justice and chaired by Lady Justice Ingrid Simler. She was joined by HHJ Sarah Venn, HHJ Barbara Mensah and Upper Tribunal Judge Paula Gray. Pupils from 12 local schools attended and put forward a range of questions, from asking about a typical day as a judge to the best career paths within the law.

A three-minute video has been made with some highlights of the event.

The event was part of the judiciary’s schools engagement national outreach programme, which complements the MA’s very successful Magistrates in the Community programme. Magistrates in the Community sees teams of magistrates across England and Wales deliver presentations to schools, colleges, employers and community groups. If you would like to get involved in Magistrates in the Community, please email us to be put in touch with the co-ordinator in your area.

HMI Probation publish National Probation Service report

National Probation Service signHM Inspectorate of Probation has released a report of their inspection of the central functions supporting the National Probation Service (NPS). The report revealed that huge workloads and staff shortages are placing the probation sector under pressure and putting public safety at risk.

Some areas were identified as improved, including better services for victims and women under supervision. However, many office buildings and accommodation for housing high-risk offenders when first released from prison were found to be in an unacceptable state of disrepair, with broken CCTV, plumbing and heating problems and one case of a rat infestation. The report also found that probation officers were still not always carrying out basic domestic violence and child safeguarding checks for some offenders.

Inspectors rated all NPS divisions as requiring improvement of staffing, with none of the areas being fully staffed. Staff sickness averaged 11 days per person and there are 650 job vacancies nationwide. Justin Russell, the Chief Inspector of Probation, explained that the vacancies were partially related to a pause in recruitment related to the 2014 privatisation reforms introduced by then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

Russell added that the staff shortages put probation officers under pressure and could compromise effective work with offenders as well as their ability to manage cases properly. The report follows several high-profile cases involving people supervised by probation. Inspectors said that false compliance, when offenders falsely claim their behaviour has improved, was a challenge for probation officers who needed highly tuned skills and experience in the job to challenge offenders effectively. Russell called for immediate steps to be taken to tackle workloads and to invest in training.

Alliance of Sport secure £1m grant aimed at improving outcomes for BAME children

Boys playing basket ballThe Youth Justice Board (YJB) have announced that a £1m grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust has been awarded to the Alliance of Sport, with support from the YJB. The total fund reaches £1.7m, taking into account additional matched funding and in-kind resources, and is the first criminal justice grant awarded by the Trust. The grant will fund a new three year project, ‘Levelling the Playing Field,’ which will use sport to improve health and broader outcomes for over 11,200 10-17 year old Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children.

The target delivery areas for the project are in London, South Yorkshire, Gwent and the West Midlands, with the initiative focussing on BAME children who are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, and those at risk of entering it. The project will provide opportunities and support through sport and physical activity.

Responding to increasingly disproportionate numbers of BAME children currently represented in the criminal justice system, the project aims are:

  • Increasing BAME participation in sport
  • Advancing youth justice policy to address disproportionality in the youth justice system
  • Developing a model which is effective and can be expanded nationally
  • Fostering active partnerships between criminal justice agencies and sport
     

YJB Board member Keith Fraser said, ‘This grant from the Trust presents a significant opportunity to have a huge positive impact on the lives of many children. This initiative is building on the past work and entering new ground in a focused and evidenced way.’

For more information on this project, please contact Adam Mooney, YJB Programme Manager.

Home Office overhauls police complaints and discipline procedure

Some police officersThe Home Office is introducing legislation that will change how complaints made against the police are handled. The stated aim of improvements is to make the investigation process simpler and quicker. The changes include:

  • Simplifying the complaints system, and putting a greater emphasis on handling complaints in a reasonable and proportionate manner
  • An enhanced role for Police and Crime Commissioners
  • A requirement to provide an explanation where investigations take longer than 12 months
  • Further measures to increase the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s effectiveness and independence in investigating all serious and sensitive matters involving the police
  • Focusing the formal discipline system on breaches of professional standards that would result in formal disciplinary action, enabling line managers to focus on improving individual learning and behaviours in response to lower level conduct matters – based on a new Reflective Practice Review Process
  • New provisions to improve the efficiency and transparency of misconduct investigations
  • Increasing the transparency of appeals against misconduct findings by replacing the current retired police officer panel member with an independent lay person and introducing new provisions to improve the timeliness and efficiency of proceedings


The College of Policing, as the professional body for the police in England and Wales, has developed training for all officers, HR teams and professional standards departments to support the service in implementing the reforms. 

Dates for your diary for 2020

Hand ringing date in red in calendarThe inaugural Young Magistrates Special Interest Group conference will take place on 8 February at the Ministry of Justice. This year’s AGM, Annual Conference and Awards Dinner will take place on 17 October at Plaisterers’ Hall in London. Council meetings will take place on 13 May in Birmingham and 4 November in Leeds, while our next event for retired members will take place on 10 March.

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