News and Comments

The TRUNK February 2021

26 February 2021

Celebrating judicial achievements at the Young Magistrates Conference

More than 100 young magistrates attended a conference to celebrate and discuss their roles within the judiciary.

The second Young Magistrates Conference was held virtually, adhering to the ongoing COVID restrictions.

The event brought together 100 young magistrates to explore the opportunities for them to take on additional responsibilities in the magistracy, discuss the attraction and recruitment of others in their age group, and celebrate their contributions to the judiciary.

Baroness Hale, former President of the Supreme Court, was one of the key speakers. She highlighted the importance of judicial diversity, saying the magistracy is more diverse than the paid judiciary, but there is still more to do.

“We need more young magistrates as they have the energy, resilience and skills to meet future challenges,” said Baroness Hale.

Luke Rigg, Chair of the Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG), said:

“I’m really pleased that over one hundred young magistrates attended the second national Young Magistrates Conference on 13 February. We heard so much passion from delegates, including ideas to improve the way we attract and recruit diverse groups of magistrates. I’d like to thank Judicial Office, the Ministry of Justice and HMCTS for supporting the event and for their continued commitment to young magistrates.”

For more information, please contact YMSIG.

Speak to the MA Special Interest Groups

As you are hopefully aware, the MA is working to recognise and bring together magistrates who are also members of groups we believe to be underrepresented within both the MA and the magistracy, as a whole. We have formed Special Interest Groups (SIGs) which will allow these members to network and discuss issues specific to them. These are the only groups of this kind that exist for the magistracy.

They exist to:

  • Provide opportunities for magistrates from underrepresented groups to network with their peers across the country;
  • Generate discourse around the issues affecting magistrates from underrepresented groups (who are members of the MA) and advise, inform and work with MA HQ to address these issues; and
  • To advise and inform the work of MA HQ with the relevant government bodies on the creation of routes to the recruitment and retention of magistrates from underrepresented groups.


The current groups are:


Each group is governed by an elected executive comprising a Chair (two Co-Chairs in the case of the BAME SIG) and two Deputy Chairs. The group executives would welcome the opportunity to speak to members and share their current activities and plans for the future. If you would like to speak to them, do please feel free to contact them at the addresses provided above.

If you have any queries about this, please contact membership.

Election of MA YMSIG executive

As the MA YMSIG executive comes to the end of its term in office, we will shortly be seeking to elect an MA YMSIG executive comprising a chair and two deputies. The process for this shall be as follows:

•    8 March: We will send information to all YMSIG members and invite them to put themselves forward for the available roles by 28 March.
•    If for any role there is only one applicant, that person will be elected and confirmed in post on 31 March.
•    Should there be more than one applicant for any role, the applicants’ details will be sent to all YMSIG members on 31 March, along with a digital ballot, for them to cast their vote by 14 April.
•    16 April: all members of the YMSIG executive will be announced. 

If you have any queries about this or the process please contact national office at Membership

MA reading list

To see the MA's recently produced reading list for members, please click here. This reading list has been produced by the MA for our members. If you know of a book that you think should be on the list please feel free to let us know by emailing

MA LGBT+ Group online social

Tomorrow 7pm

If you would like to attend the social and group update meeting on Saturday 27th at 7pm, and have not already done so, please fill in the Equality and Diversity monitoring form.  

The link to join the Teams meeting is below:

You don't have to join using your ejudiciary login, but you may have to wait in the lobby until someone lets you in.

If you're unable to make it, but have questions or points you would like to raise, please contact

MA Webinar: New magistrates’ webinar

On 25th February, we held a webinar for new magistrates. All four chairs of the MA’s policy committee, as well as the MA Chair, Bev Higgs attended the session in which 200 magistrates were able to engage in discussions covering all jurisdictions. The webinar also allowed new magistrates to find out more information on available training while presenting an opportunity for them to gain experience in a variety of judicial matters with experienced magistrates.


Bev Higgs: Chair of the MA

Val Castell: Chair, Adult Court Committee

The Adult Court Committee develops MA policy relating to all aspects of the work of the adult courts and steers associated research, development and implementation.

Linda Logan: Chair, Youth Court Committee

The Youth Court Committee develops MA policy relating to all aspects of the work of the youth courts and steers associated research, development and implementation

Tracy Sortwell: Chair, Family Court Committee

The Family Court Committee develops MA policy relating to all aspects of the work of the family courts and steers associated research, development and implementation.

Sue Grace: Chair, Training, Learning and Development Committee

The Training, Learning and Development Committee develops MA policy relating to all aspects of magistrates' training and steers associated research, development and implementation. 

Being a new magistrate during this time has been a difficult experience for some, and so it was beneficial for people to have this opportunity. The webinar will shortly be available here.

Nottinghamshire MA: AGM

Nottinghamshire MA held its much-delayed 2020 Annual General Meeting in the evening of Tuesday 23 February 2021. In addition to the formal business arranged, there was a presentation by Sam Hudson of Electronic Monitoring Services Ltd, who spoke about the use of RF and GPS Tags, plus the forthcoming Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring rollout. 

The Nottinghamshire Bench Chair and Senior Legal Team Manager for the Cluster both gave presentations and answered questions from members. 

Branch Chair Bruce Cameron was finally able to publicly present the Branch MIC Coordinator Pat Walsh with the National MA Innovation Award for 2018. Pat gave a very interesting account of the work of the Nottinghamshire MIC, including the multi-agency work with schools and universities that had led to the award.

The meeting was held virtually using MS Teams and 86 members attended, significantly more than in previous years with many participants saying they preferred the format to travelling.

For more information, please contact Bruce Cameron.

Merseyside MA: members' meeting

Merseyside MA members are invited to come together virtually for a meeting on Monday 8 March via Zoom. The guest speaker, District Judge Andrew Shaw will be sharing some reflections on his time sitting in the Magistrates’ Courts. 

The meeting will start at 6:00pm with an update from members of the Committee on the Branch and its plans. DJ Shaw will speak at around 6:30 and, time permitting, will hopefully be able to take some of your questions.

You’ll need to register for the event beforehand, by following the link below:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. 

For more information, please contact Martin Rogers.

Wessex MA: annual training day webinar

Wessex MA invite you to join a Zoom webinar to explore the life of Lee Lawrence in a live interview with charity CEO Lizzie Cho, from 6-7pm on Wednesday 28 April 2021.

At age 11, Lee witnessed his mother, Cherry Groce, shot by a member of the Metropolitan Police; leading to the Brixton riots of 1985. Lee now works with the police and in 2020 his autobiography, The Louder I Shall Sing, was awarded the Costa Book Prize biography award.

The conversation will examine themes of race and class which affect so many within the judicial system and aims to break down some of the barriers to understanding.

MA members outside of the Wessex Branch should contact David James for registration and joining instructions.

North & Central London MA: talk on HMP Pentonville

On Thursday 25 February, Ian Blakeman, governor of HMP Pentonville, spoke to an audience of 117 MA members from across London at an event organised by the North & Central London branch.  

Governor Blakeman spoke frankly about the challenges of running Pentonville – a Victorian building with crumbling infrastructure – and detailed the difficulties staff and inmates have faced with COVID.  These include deteriorating morale as trial delays have increased time on remand, visits stopped and activities curtailed, the practical challenges of isolating prisoners and the toll on staff. However, he also said that COVID had brought unexpected benefits, for example decreased movement around the building has made prisoners feel safer, phones have been introduced in all cells and laptops have been purchased with educational provision preloaded. A lively Q&A session covered a wide range of issues and magistrates welcomed the imminent arrival of a new video suite at the prison, which should improve the prison video link to court in future. 

For more information, please contact Amanda Gibbon.

Berkshire MA: AGM and members’ meeting

Berkshire MA members are invited to come together virtually for its upcoming AGM and members’ meeting. They will be joined by HHJ Jeffrey Blackett as a guest speaker, and MA Chair, Bev Higgs, will have a slot in the meeting to say hello.

The meeting will be on 14 April 2021 and will take place on Zoom at 7.30pm.

HHJ Jeffrey Blackett is a retired British judge and former Royal Navy officer with the rank of Commodore. He was Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces from 2004 to 2020 and among the cases over which he presided was that of "Marine A". He was the Chief Disciplinary Officer at the Rugby Football Union and conducted an investigation into the Bloodgate scandal, and is the President of the RFU for the current season. He was a Senior Circuit Judge from 2005 until his retirement in 2020.

For more information, please click here to contact Paul Wassell

Oxfordshire MA: executive meeting

The Oxfordshire MA executive are meeting on Thursday 4 March. If branch members have anything in particular they wish to be provided with, please contact Tania Johnson. It could be training or social events or contacts for future presenters etc.

500 Club - February WINNERS

1st Prize – Helen Edwards (Mid & South Glamorgan)
2nd Prize – Andrew Phillips (North East & East London)
3rd Prize –  Martyn Sharp (Cambridgeshire)

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