News and Comments

The TRUNK December 2019

The Trunk: where branches come together

19 December 2019


North Cheshire MA: record number of MIC presentations delivered in one day

In an amazing turn of events, on 27 November, he North Cheshire MA MIC team presented to over 780 pupils of Beamont Collegiate Academy in Warrington. 

A team of seven magistrates, all based in the Warrington courthouse, visited the school as part of its careers week. The team completed 14 60-minute presentations and spent time with each class answering questions about the justice system and giving real life examples of what happens in their courts.  

This was the largest event the team has every put on and the presentation had been agreed with the school beforehand, to ensure the content was best suited to the pupils. The presentation covered a range of subjects regarding the role of magistrates and the workings of their local court. The team placed particular emphasis on the consequences of a criminal record and its impact on future career prospects. As it was careers week, the presenters talked about their own careers and why they give their time to sit as magistrates. 

North Cheshire MA MIC coordinator, Andrew Emmerson, said: ‘I was so proud of the team who came with me to Beamont today. I attended this school many years ago and I was delighted to return and present on such an important topic. I wanted the pupils to know that magistrates were members of the public, just like their mums and dads and we applied common sense when coming to our judgments.’

Laura Mellor- Leader of PHSE said: ‘The magistrates’ workshop was really interesting and pupils were engaged for the whole duration. The content covered was relevant and age appropriate. Many pupils demonstrated interest by listening intently and asking lots of meaningful questions.’

One of the teachers said: ‘Really interesting and the magistrates, (Karen and Geoff) were so good with answering all of the questions and explaining everything clearly; our class really enjoyed it.”

Some of the great feedback received:

Year 10 pupil: ‘Yes, it was good. Can we get someone in from a prison?’

Year 9 pupil: ‘I want to be involved with the Law. I enjoyed the lesson and it made me think.’

Year 8 pupil: ‘I now know what a magistrate is and what they do.’

Year 7 pupil: ‘One thing I remember the most was that 10 is the age you can get a criminal record. I didn’t think it was so young. I thought it would be 18.’

Gareth Harris, Principal: ‘Thank you to Andrew Emmerson and his team of magistrates on such a fantastic event.’

Alan Davies, Chair of the North Cheshire Bench: ‘I was delighted to be part of the event today at Beamont Collegiate Academy. It is important for the public to have confidence in the justice system and the pupils were able to ask many questions about what happens in court. It was important for us to emphasis the impact of a criminal record can have upon a person’s career prospects.’

The North Cheshire MA MIC team intends to hold this event in all of the local secondary schools in Warrington, Runcorn and Widnes. Last year, the team presented to over 2,200 pupils and members of the public.
For more information, please click here to contact Andrew Emmerson. 

If you would like to learn more about MIC or find out who your local MIC Coordinator is, please click here to contact Head Office. 


Greater Manchester MA

As part of the Greater Manchester MA MIC programme, the branch is facilitating a Theatre in Education Company to deliver two presentations to High Schools and Academies within Greater Manchester.

The Round Midnight Theatre Company have been delivering education and training programs across the UK and internationally since 1992. Their high impact topical performances and workshops provide a new platform for creative learning. Using drama and the arts, they create bespoke packages, delivering topics and focus areas for both Primary and Secondary Schools, as well as FE providers.

Round Midnight have developed an interactive Theatre in Education program called Cutting Ties, which educates young people on the facts about knife crime, the risks and the reasons as to why young people carry knives. GMMA has facilitated the performance of Cutting Ties at Walkden Coop Academy and has a further performance booked at Stockport School in February 2020.

Round Midnight have also developed a Virtual Reality (VR) presentation called Virtual Decisions, which utilises the use of modern VR headsets. This presentation takes the participant on a journey, where the participant dictates the progression of the scene, which involves bullying, gang culture and potentially knife crime. On 11 December, GMMA facilitated the presentation at Kingsland Pupil Referral Unit in Oldham.

‘We found that we had to challenge the young people a lot because of things that they were vocalising (i.e. how they would react negatively in a difficult situation) but it’s good that they were engaged and willing to talk about the issues for the entire session. 

‘There was a LOT of bravado and "big talk" so to speak, but that's what we expect with these workshops. I think they got a lot out of the experience - we really enjoyed our day. One of the best things I heard from one of the young people, when talking about knife crime and placing yourself in the shoes of a family member, was ‘wow, this really makes you think doesn't it?’’Sami Cornick, Theatre in Education practitioner, Round Midnight

Greater Manchester MA is committed to paying its part in tackling the issue of knife crime in the county. The branch is very grateful to The Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund, GM High Sheriff's Police Fund, and Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust for funding these presentations.

For more information, please contact Paul Brearley


Staffordshire MA: annual conference 

On 2 November, Staffordshire MA held its annual conference. And what a jampacked and exciting day it was! 

MA National Chair, John Bache, addressed members during the breakfast meeting presided over by the Lord Lieutenant Ian Dudson. 

The Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales, Lady Macur, addressed the conference on her role in the management of the magistracy, and what she is doing in government to raise the profile of the vital work that magistrates do.

MA member, Dr Jo Turner, Associate Professor of Criminology at Staffordshire University, gave a talk responding to the many criticisms of magistrates in the book by the Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It’s Broken.

DCs Anthony David and Spencer Skivington gave a presentation on County Lines in Staffordshire. There were also presentations on unrepresented defendants, the new General Guideline, managing difficult people in court and complex sentencing. 

There were lots of activities during the break times, including information stalls from the Probation Service and the Safer Road Partnership, and the opportunity to be on the other side of the law and get locked in a prison van!

The final part of the agenda was a question and answer session with a panel of the day’s presenters answering questions from the audience. The panel comprised Alison Beardmore, Team Legal Manager; John Bache, MA National Chair; Ashley Brough, High Sherriff of Staffordshire; HHJ David Fletcher (Liaison Judge); DDJ David Goodman (former Justices’ Clerk of Staffordshire); and Rob Holt (local solicitor). It was chaired by Richard Thomas (MA Council Representative for Staffordshire MA). The questions ranged from specific training and resourcing questions to advice that the panel would give to new magistrates.  

Closing the event, Branch Chair, Jonathan Dannatt said, ‘I really hope that this great event - where we have had some insightful presentations on subjects that matter to us, and had the opportunity to talk to each other away from the courtroom - will demonstrate to everyone what the MA is for and what it can do given a little bit of support by the courts’ service.’

For more information, please contact Jonathan Dannatt

Pictured left to right, Jonathan Dannatt, Alison Beardmore, John Bache, Richard Thomas, Ashley Brough, David Fletcher, David Goodman and Rob Holt.

Surrey MA: report on traffic management and road safety familiarisation

On 12 December 2019, Surrey MA’s Chair delivered a report on traffic management and road safety familiarisation at Surrey Police Headquarters, Mount Browne, Guildford.


09.30 – 10.00          Arrival and Welcome

10.00 – 12.00          Drink/Drug Driving Legislation, Alcometer, Intoximeter and Drug Wipe

12.00 – 12.45          Lunch

12.45 – 13.45          Speed Enforcement Cameras

13.45 – 14.45          Handheld Speed Enforcement, Camera Van and Stinger Demonstrations

14.45 - End              Questions and Close

16 Surrey Magistrates attended this event, which was led by Karon Goodfellow, Chairman of Surrey MA. The timetable proved to be flexible right from the start. In addition to the above, Gavin Stephens, Chief Constable of Surrey, unexpectedly welcomed attendees personally, explained all the activities at the headquarters and invited the magistrates to tour the small museum of Policing in Surrey.  

The day proved to be both interesting and informative. Half of those attending were new magistrates appointed in the last two years. The aim was that what they learned will enable them to make more informed decisions on the bench.

For more information, click here to contact Karon Goodfellow

North London magistrates walk to celebrate the centenary of first female magistrate

On 13 December, members of the North London Bench organised a walk to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first female magistrate, Ada Summers. The walkers started at the Royal Courts of Justice and walked two and a half miles through central London, terminating at the MA head office in Vauxhall. They were greeted with refreshments and a warm welcome from Jon Collins, MA Chief Executive.  

For more information, please contact Membership

Reunion of retired magistrates of Camberwell and Tower Bridge

11 years ago, following my own retirement and missing the colleagues who had become such an important part of my life, I decided to arrange a lunch for all the retired magistrates of Camberwell and Tower Bridge.

We were quite a crowd, meeting in Covent Garden, with 35 people attending.  I had many requests to arrange a similar reunion for the following year and it became an annual event.

With the help of fellow retired magistrate, Joanna Breach, we continue to gather at various locations to catch up and share stories of our busy lives. The invitation extended to colleagues still sitting on the bench that we shared for years.

This year was particularly special as the location for our lunch was at the Hotel Dixon, which is on the site of the original Tower Bridge Magistrates Courts. We had a short tour of the new hotel and noted that the bar area is where No 1 Court used to be. They have managed to keep the Court’s original design!

Indeed, not much has changed in this beautiful building and the design of the new hotel has incorporated many of the original features from the old courts. The restaurant is where the cells once were, and they have preserved one cell in the middle for patrons to view. We felt quite at home and very nostalgic. The staff made a great fuss of us.

The photo taken of this year’s group is on the original staircase. Not 35 people, as you can see. Of our original group, sadly some have passed on or were unable to travel for the occasion. But, we will continue with this thoroughly enjoyable day for many years to come.

Barbara Melville JP

For more information on this event, please click here to contact Barbara Melville

Birmingham MA: retired magistrates enjoy tea with the Lord Mayor 

On 27 November, Chair of the Birmingham MA, Margaret Windsor, organised afternoon tea for retired magistrates with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mohammed Azim. The meeting took place at the Council House, overlooking the colourful German Market. 

The Lord Mayor was most generous in his welcome and giving of his time as he praised the work of the Magistracy, saying how grateful the City of Birmingham is to those who undertake this important role. As the tea flowed, so did the conversation about the strength of the city’s multicultural communities and the contribution of the many young people and families who choose to make the Country’s Second City their home. 

The Lord Mayor was interested to hear about the Mock Trial the branch hosts annually, and the backgrounds of the retired members, including their important contributions as Justices of the Peace. 

The morning concluded with a fascinating tour of the Council House during which, as guests, members were invited to sign the visitors’ book in the Mayoral Parlour and to sit in the Council Chamber. Their excellent guide, Julie, shared anecdotes about former First Citizens and tales of official gifts to the City, celebrating the wonderful and long history of a city that led the Industrial Revolution and where, it used to be said, you could buy anything from a button to a bullet! 

For more information, please click here to contact Margaret Windsor.  

Buckinghamshire MA: AGM/Conference – ‘Education in the Criminal Justice System’ 

On 16 November, Buckinghamshire MA held their AGM and annual conference at the Grange School, Aylesbury, HP21 7NH. The theme of the conference was ‘Education in the Criminal Justice System’. 

The branch was very pleased to welcome 60 guests including MA national Chair, John Bache. John spoke of his concerns on a few issues that really resonated with attendees, who were reassured that the MA is speaking on their behalf. 

The event’s main speakers were extremely thought provoking and gave attendees great insight into what education is available in prison; how that education is geared to getting people into employment on leaving custody; what training is available through Probation that also leads to employment; the employers who are seeing the benefits of employing an ex offender; and the real stories from two ex-offenders who have personally seen the benefit of education in custody. 

These two YouTube videos highlight how education really can transform lives. 

For more information, please contact Debbie Gibbs

Berkshire MA: visit to a residential drug rehabilitation centre 

On 16 January 2020, members of Berkshire MA will be able to visit Yeldall Manor, a facility which provides residential rehabilitation for men with drug and/or alcohol addictions. 

 In its own words: 

‘Yeldall Manor is a residential rehabilitation centre, set in 38 acres of Berkshire countryside near Reading. For over 40 years, we have been helping men to overcome serious drug or alcohol addictions and return to society to live new lives, drug, alcohol and crime free. We believe that recovery is possible and that recovery is not just abstinence. It involves learning to live comfortably as a sober, productive member of the community.’   

More information may be found at:  

Members who are interested may contact Paul Wassell by clicking here.  

Coventry and Warwickshire MA: end of year update 

February training event

Coventry and Warwickshire MA will hold its next training event on 8 February 2020, in the Jury Room at Leamington Spa courts. The event will feature two guest speakers; Her Honour Judge Hilary Watson (Designated Family Judge for Coventry and Warwickshire) on ‘family court matters’ and Michelle Salt from EMS on ‘electronically monitored curfews and demonstration of the equipment’.  Both speakers will welcome questions and the event runs from 9am to 12 noon.  

Please click here to RSVP to Steve Westwood.

Branch and Bench Christmas tea party

Over 40 retired Magistrates attended the Coventry and Warwickshire Branch and Bench Christmas tea party on 4 December, ably hosted by the Branch Retired Members’ Officer, Sue Jeffs.   

The event was a huge success and plans are already in place for a Spring tea party on 22 April.  Sue is also considering plans to host events in other parts of Warwickshire and looks forward to hearing members’ suggestions.

If you have any queries or ideas, please click here to contact Sue Jeffs. 

Not Pretty Like the Rainbow, a new play from Clean Break

Not Pretty Like The Rainbow by Daisy King is a brave, big hearted play which explores the ripple effect that imprisonment has on women’s lives. Three women, known only as ‘66’, ‘70’ and ‘46’, have their lives derailed by short sentences which put their housing, families and mental health at risk. Now, it’s finally time to tell their stories. 
At a time when short sentences have been widely recognised as ineffective, Daisy King asks what this means for the women who are still serving time for six months or less and offers audiences some alternatives to consider. 
This short play is written and performed by women with experience or on the fringes of the criminal justice system and makes an engaging and impactful contribution for conferences, seminars or training events. The 20 minute play can be stand alone or accompanied by a 40 minute workshop or discussion enabling audiences to explore in more detail the issues raised by the play and is suitable for larger staff or service user meetings, conferences and events.
This production is available for bookings from the end of January through to the end of March 2020, on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays of each week. The playing space required is flexible and the only set requirement is the provision of three chairs. 
Please click here to download the full information pack. 

If you would like to discuss booking the production to perform at a branch or MIC event, please contact Mimi Findlay, Producer, by clicking here or on 020 7482 8613.

JP Stories: tell us your tales 

The retiring room is always full of stories - funny, enlightening, bizarre, shocking, heart-rending, and insightful. We listen and laugh, discover - and sometimes despair.

My day job is as a freelance features journalist and so I thought it would be good to gather some of these stories together and give them a wider audience, both within the judiciary and potentially beyond.  I am now collecting stories. I've already had some wonderful ones, but would love to see more.

The plan is to feature the best in a new occasional slot in MAGISTRATE magazine, starting in the New Year, and potentially also in an anthology.

So if you have a good story - or stories – please click here to send it (or them) in.

Please include your name and Bench (these will not be published - the stories need to be anonymous for obvious reasons) along with your story or stories told as succinctly as possible. A maximum of 500 words is requested, unless your story really requires more. 100 words - or indeed 20 - is fine if that is all you need.

By sending your stories to the above address you are agreeing to their use, sensibly edited if necessary, for these purposes.

 If you have a tale worth telling - do share it! I very much look forward to reaching your entries.

Juliet Rix, Middlesex MA  

For more information, please contact Membership

The Richard Guy OBE JP Bursary

Many MA Branches across the country engage in innovative community outreach to diverse groups including the BAME, LGBTQIA+, and disabled communities, via Magistrates in the Community and other activities. Members often fund these activities out of their own pockets.

The Richard Guy OBE JP Bursary has been created to support MA Branches and members who undertake the promotion of the MA and the magistracy to diverse or underrepresented communities, furthering outreach and public knowledge of the magistracy and criminal justice. The Bursary will run for a period of five years. There may be changes to the criteria during this period. 

Branches and/or Branch members are invited to apply for an annual Bursary of up to £500 to fund outreach activity which promotes inclusion and social value within the MA and the magistracy. 


For more information, please contact Membership

Updates from MA head office

MA Special Interest Groups

The MA is currently working to recognise and bring together MA members who are also members of groups we believe to be underrepresented within both the MA and the magistracy, as a whole. We are forming Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which will allow these members to network and discuss issues specific to them. The first of these to be launched was the Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG), which was formed in consultation with young magistrates, including a focus group. It was launched in April 2019 and has undertaken a series of successful activities over the course of the last six months.

The LGBT+ Group was launched earlier this month and elections will be taking place in early 2020. We are also holding focus groups for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) magistrates and magistrates with disabilities in January.

If you would like to be kept informed about the relevant groups (or if you would just like to help us form an accurate picture of the demographic makeup of our members), please click here and complete our monitoring form, if you haven’t already. Completion of the form is voluntary, and the information provided will be entirely confidential and used for MA purposes, only. You will need to be logged in to complete the form.

2020 AGM, Conference and Awards Dinner  

The MA 2020 event will be taking place on 17 October at Plaisterers Hall, 1 London Wall, Barbican, London EC2Y 5JU. Further details will be released shortly. Click here to book your Early Bird tickets. 

MA member satisfaction survey

The MA aims to deliver the highest level of service and provide a membership offering tailored to your needs. If you haven’t already, please click here to complete our annual survey to let us know what we are doing well, what we could be doing better and what you would like from us in 2020. 

2020 Royal Garden Parties

We have received the dates for the 2020 Royal Garden Parties. These are Tuesday 12 May, Tuesday 19 May, and Wednesday 27 May. As usual, a pair of tickets will be allocated to each branch. We will be in touch with branch executives shortly to ask for their nominated attendees.

Fore more information, please contact Membership

Chair & Deputy Chair Branch Visits

John Bache, Chair

28 March 2020           Northamptonshire MA
3 May 2020                Welsh branches' centenary event 

Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, Deputy Chair

23 April 2020           Berkshire MA


1st Prize – Maureen Todd (Dorset)
2nd Prize – Colin Hillary (Cleveland & Durham)
3rd Prize – Keith Sanderson (Merseyside)

Contextual Awareness Visits:  -   ***New Dates Added***

Wednesday 12th February 2020 @ 12.30pm  8 places available***

HMP & YOI Styal:

Tuesday 3rd December 2019   9 places available

Tuesday 4th February 2020 @ 2pm  8 places available***

St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre [SARC]

Wednesday 12th February 2020   15 places available***

LGBT Foundation: Village Angels

Friday 29th November 2019 9pm – 3am     5 places available***

This will be going on patrol with the Village Angels – more information is available on the LGBT Foundation website.

Please contact Paul Brearley, for further information


Previous Article 100 years of women magistrates
Next Article Strategy for the magistracy published

Please login or register to post comments.