News and Comments

The TRUNK February 2020

25 February 2020

Magistrates in the Community at the Home Office

On 17 February, Luke Rigg and Katherine Sirrell – Chair and Co-Deputy Chair respectively of the MA’s Young Magistrates Special Interest Group – led an extremely successful Magistrates in the Community session at the Home Office in London. Attended by more than 60 civil servants, the session was an opportunity to explain the role of the magistracy, bust some popular myths about who magistrates are and what they do, and encourage attendees to consider applying to become a magistrate.

Luke and Katherine, who are themselves both civil servants, talked about how they became magistrates, their experiences in the role and why they value the opportunity to play such an important role in the community. They also discussed the common crimes seen by magistrates, magistrates’ powers and who can be a magistrate, with a particular focus on the need for diversity in the magistracy. They concluded with a sentencing exercise that enabled attendees to better understand how sentencing works.

The session was very well received, with a number of attendees expressing an interest afterwards in becoming a magistrate, and the Home Office are hoping to repeat it later in the year.

You can find out more about the MA’s Special Interest Group here and more about Magistrates in the Community here.

Please contact us for more information on joining a special interest group or taking part in Magistrates in the Community.

Magistrates Association marks first ever Young Magistrates Conference

On 8 February, the Magistrates Association’s Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG) held its first ever national conference to celebrate the contribution of young magistrates. The aim of the conference was to create a space to celebrate and explore the role of young magistrates and provide networking and training opportunities.

Nearly one hundred magistrates from across England and Wales travelled to London for the conference, where they heard from a number of guest speakers and participated in lively discussions about the importance of a diverse magistracy.

Among delegates, the conference was attended by senior members of the magistracy: John Bache, National Chair of the Magistrates Association; Duncan Webster, National Leadership Magistrate; Emma Arbuthnot, Chief Magistrate; and Jon Collins, Chief Executive of the Magistrates Association.

Luke Rigg, Chair of the YMSIG, opened the event by reflecting on the stark judicial diversity statistics, which show less than 5% of sitting magistrates are under 40. Luke went on to set out the YMSIG has sought to represent young magistrates’ views at senior meetings, where issues ranging from expenses and allowances to attraction and recruitment have been discussed at a senior level.

During the conference, delegates heard from keynote speaker Susan Acland-Hood, HMCTS Chief Executive, who spoke about the importance of a diverse bench in improving decision-making, as well as the work HMCTS is leading to improve the attraction and recruitment of young magistrates.

Katherine Sirrell, Co-Deputy Chair of the YMSIG, chaired a panel discussion with three young judges: Her Honour Judge Hannah Duncan (Crown Court); Deputy District Judge Briony Clarke; and Deputy District Judge Andrew Johnson (Magistrates’ Court). The judges, who were all in their 30s, shared their reflections as some of the youngest members of the paid judiciary in the country, and offered tips to younger magistrates embarking on their judicial journeys.

Guests also participated in confidence and resilience training, facilitated by Nikki Alderson, executive coach and former criminal lawyer. Others worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas to improve the current offer for young magistrates, facilitated by Catherine Andrews, Co-Deputy Chair of the YMSIG.

Finally, delegates heard from Gina Martin, the activist and campaigner who successfully persuaded the Government to amend the Voyeurism Act and include ‘Upskirting’ as a specific criminal offence. Gina reflected on her campaign and shared advice to the conference on maintaining resilience in the face of significant challenges.

The event was well received by magistrates and the senior judiciary, with calls for the conference to become an annual event.

NB: On 20 February, at the age of 34, Briony Clarke became the UK’s youngest female judge promoted to full district status and will now be addressed as District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) Briony Clarke.

About the YMSIG

The Magistrates Association established the Young Magistrates Special Interest Group In 2019 to support younger magistrates, influence policy and provide networking opportunities. The group is open to any MA member aged 40 or below. If you would like to get involved, please email

MA LGBT+ Group

The MA LGBT+ Group was launched on 19 February.

Following internal elections, an MA LGBT+ Group executive has been elected. It comprises:

  • Chair: Paul Brearley, Greater Manchester MA
  • Deputy Chair: Mark Leith, Greater Manchester MA
  • Deputy Chair: Tom Quarton-Manuel, Nottinghamshire MA

For more information on the MA LGBT+ Group, please email

More information on all the Special Interest Groups may be found here.

We are in the process of creating groups for BAME magistrates and magistrates with disabilities, which we hope to launch by the end of March.

West Glamorgan MA: mock trail competition

West Glamorgan MA is delighted to announce that this year’s mock trial competition is being held on 21 March at Swansea Crown Court.

This year four teams will be competing, which will require the running of two courts.  

In order to ensure smooth running of the competition, the branch is seeking volunteers to help out on the day.

The competition is always an enjoyable event for everyone involved, as the enthusiasm and engagement of the school teams involved is infectious.

If you are able to give up some of your valuable time to help out, please click here to contact Barry Arnold.  

Bedfordshire MA: visit to Bedfordshire Police Cyber Hub

After one of its successful mini-conferences a member asked if Bedfordshire MA would be able arrange a visit to Bedfordshire Police Cyber Hub. The branch is delighted to announce that it has exclusively been arranged for Bedfordshire MA members to attend the Cyber Hub for the morning of 29 April, from 10am – 12:30pm.

Programme for the morning:

  1.  Meet at Bedfordshire Police HQ Enquiry office for 09:45 - 10:00am.  Parking to be arranged by Cyber Hub te
  2.  Names of visitors & number of cars, to be provided a few days before.
  3. No requirement to sign in, as point 2 will act as register
  4. Delegates to be met at the enquiry office by Cyber Hub staff.
  5. Visit to all units within the cyber hub; namely DMIT, ICAIT, DFU, Protect & prevent.
  6. Outside visit to mobile vans used by unit [ensure delegates have suitable clothing to be outside for 20-30 minutes].
  7. Light refreshments and Q&A session
  8. Depart approx. 12:30pm

Due to practicalities there are a limited number of spaces that can go on the visit, with a maximum of 20 delegates. Please don't delay in securing your spot, click here to contact Pauline Stewart ASAP. places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

When your place has been confirmed, please provide your vehicle registration number as this will be needed to park at Kempston Police HQ.

For more information, please contact Pauline Stewart.

Cambridgeshire MA: AGM and Mini Conference

Cambridgeshire MA welcomes all members to its AGM and Mini Conference to be held at Huntingdon Town Hall (new venue) on 6 June.

The event will run from 10am – 1pm, and be followed by buffet lunch provided by the Social Committee.

More details will be made available shortly, but please save the date.

If you have any queries, please click here to contact Tracy Sortwell.

North and West Yorkshire MA: AGM

North and West Yorkshire MA AGM will be held on 16 May, at the Bar Convent Heritage Centre, Blossom Street YORK YO24 1AQ.

The event will commence at 10.15am with the AGM. Attendees will then go on to listen to keynote speakers for the day. The first will be Ms Lisa Winward, Chief Constable North Yorkshire Police who will provide a perspective of issues currently facing her Police Force. Whilst her address may range widely the branch has asked that she include something on the impact of  ‘County Lines’ and perhaps say something about the current approach of the North Yorkshire Police to dealing with mental health issues of defendants and victims they now face.

The second speaker, Ms Lynda Marginson CBE, North East Regional Director National Probation Service, will give a presentation on current probation matters and then lead a discussion period with the broad theme of  ‘Understanding current probation interventions and getting best information’.  It all promises to be a worthwhile event.

This is an authorised training event and so sitting magistrates who attend are able to claim the appropriate travel expenses.

Further details of the AGM will be sent out next month. The branch will be seeking new committee members as it is losing some of current committee members who are stepping down after a number of years’ service (self- nomination is permitted).

For more details on any of the above, please click here to contact Clive Cooper.

Birmingham MA: an evening with District Judge David Robinson

On 24 March Birmingham MA: an evening with District Judge David Robinson. The event will be held in the Grand Jury Room of Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

Tea and Coffee will be available from 6.30pm and DJ Robinson’s talk will take place from 7-8pm.

To book your place, please click here to contact Margaret Windsor.

Middlesex MA: winter update

Domestic Abuse Training Event

There are still a few places remaining for the branch’s Domestic Abuse Training Event on 3 March at 7pm at the Doubletree Hotel on Ealing Common. This now has JTAAAC approval so members will be able to claim expenses. The branch has high profile speakers: Mary Mason, CEO Solace Women's Aid; Gaynor Mears, Domestic Homicide Chair; and Lisa Ramsarran the CPS London Lead on DA.

Branch Secretary sought

The branch is seeking a Branch Secretary. Please contact Roger King if you would like to get more involved in your re-invigorated Branch.

Branch social

Several Middlesex MA members and their partners attended a very enjoyable branch social a couple of weeks ago. They attended Agatha Christie’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ at County Hall. Attendees found it a great pleasure to meet people in an informal setting.

The branch executive would love to hear from you if you would appreciate the branch organising a summer social (suggestion for venue/activity greatly appreciated).

If you have queries or feedback on any of the above, please click here to contact Roger King.

Berkshire MA: members meeting with invited speakers

The next meeting of Berkshire MA members takes place at Sindlesham Court on Mole Road on 23 April.  The meeting starts at 5pm with a talk from our very own Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, Deputy Chair of the MA.

After the AGM and meeting, attendees will be treated to a talk from guest speaker, His Honour Andrew Hatton, who is the Director of Training for Courts and also Joint Dean of the Faculty of the Judicial College.

For more information, please contact Paul Wassell.

Coventry and Warwickshire MA: centenary celebration

The Coventry & Warwickshire branch is proud to announce a very special event to celebrate 100 years of the Magistrate Association and 100 years of Women Magistrates. The event takes place in a medieval Guildhall in Warwick on Saturday 13th June and our keynote speaker is the Senior Presiding Judge, Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Thirlwall DBE. Others speakers will be announced shortly.  Tickets will go on sale in March and priority will be given to local branch members. 

For further information, please contact

East Sussex MA: spring training event

East Sussex MA will be holding its spring training event normal venue in Eastbourne on the 16 May, from 9.30am-1pm.

The theme of the event will incorporate Drug Driving enforcement and sentencing, and the Drink Driving and Speed Awareness Courses.

The branch also hopes to have an expert to speak about the drug testing of hair, as used in East Sussex Family Courts.

East Sussex MA members are asked to save the date. More details, an agenda and directions will be sent out closer to the date.  

If you have any queries, please click here to contact Mark Durell.

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

MA Conference, Awards and AGM

Saturday 17 October 2020      

Plaisterers’ Hall, London EC2Y 5JU

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


Keynote speaker: The Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon, The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales

Expert panel discussions

  1. Reforming the criminal and family courts – creating a system fit for the next 100 years
  2. Responding to crime – the role of prison and probation in society

Breakout sessions

  1. The Sentencing Council
  2. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust
  3. Understanding maturity in the criminal court
  4. The role of the courts in private and family life

Speakers will be announced shortly.



Conference 10:00 - 16:00

AGM (members only) 16:00 - 17:00

The MA Big Day Out 10:30 - 16:00

The MA partner programme has evolved! Tailored for those of our retired members who no longer find the conference relevant, as well as the partners of our conference delegates, you will have the chance to sightsee, enjoy a delicious meal and socialise on the MA Big Day Out.

Dinner and awards ceremony 19:00

Fore more information, please contact Membership

Richard Guy OBE JP Bursary: successful applications chosen

Richard Guy OBE JP has been an MA member for almost four decades and is a passionate supporter of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights. Richard established the Richard Guy OBE JP Bursary, to run from 2020 to 2024. This will be administered by the Magistrates Association,  with a view to furthering outreach and public knowledge of the magistracy and criminal justice particularly community outreach to the BAME, LGBT+, and disabled communities. Please click here for more details about the bursary.

Branches and/or Branch members were 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. Applications were open from 2 December 2019 and to 3 February 2020.

We have now selected the winning applications. The intention was to make one grant per year. However, all three of the shortlisted applications were felt to have merit, so Richard is very kindly making three grants of £500 to Greater Manchester MA, South and South East London MA, and Birmingham MA.

Over the course of the year, the branches will be undertaking projects that promote the MA and the magistracy to diverse or underrepresented communities. We very much look forward to sharing information about their projects with you in future editions of the TRUNK.

Many of our Branches and individual members across the country engage in innovative community outreach to diverse groups and their efforts are often stymied by a lack of funds. The bursary has provided the opportunity for our members to undertake work that would not otherwise be possible, and for this we are most grateful. Please join us in congratulating them on their successful applications and thanking Richard Guy for his generosity.

If you have any queries about the Richard Guy OBE JP Bursary, please click here to contact the MA.

2020 Vision: 100 years of justice

The MA’s first touring art exhibition!

The 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




13-29 August


Creative Art Gallery at Hope Mill

3-19 September



24 September - 10 October


To be confirmed

15-24 October


D Contemporary

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

Chair & Deputy Chair Branch Visits

John Bache, Chair

28 March 2020           Northamptonshire MA
6 June 2020               Lincolnshire MA
25 June 2020             Shropshire MA
17 July 2020               Wiltshire MA
3 May 2020      Welsh branches' centenary event 

Beverley Higgs, Deputy Chair

23 April 2020           Berkshire MA

Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, Deputy Chair

13 June 2020           Coventry & Warwickshire MA

Wessex MA: Branch Training Day & AGM for 2020

The Wessex Branch Training Day & AGM for 2020 will be held on Saturday 25th April at Horndean College, Hampshire. Enrolment instructions will be sent out close to the end of March.

For more information, please contact Wessex MA

Dorset MA: AGM

Please note that this year's AGM will be held on Wednesday 28th October 2020 at Bryanston School.  Further details will follow in due course, but the format will be fairly similar to previous years (i.e. late afternoon start with supper at the conclusion).


If you would like to submit an article to the TRUNK and promote anything you or your branch are doing, please click here to let us know. We want are interested in everything from MIC presentations, to branch socials, to any innovative initiatives you might be undertaking. We accept submissions from individual members, as well as branches, so do please get in touch.

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