News and Comments

The TRUNK January 2021

29 January 2021

MA members awarded New Year Honours

The MA wishes to extend our warmest congratulations to magistrates Rabinder Bhanot JP (North East and East London) and Dean Wilson JP (South and South East London) and to retired magistrate Pamela Clouston JP (Northumbria), who all received MBEs in the New Year’s Honours list.

See the full list here.

North East regional forum

After a number of informal conversations, Cleveland and Durham MA, Northumbria MA and North and West Yorkshire MA have set up a forum to increase cooperation between one another and to assist in creating better communication within the MA and with HMCTS.

The forum looks to promote a consistency of approach and good practice across the branches in all aspects of their responsibilities, plus create a strategic and regional voice for the MA members. The membership is made up of the Chairs from each of the Branches, one other committee member, the JBG representative and also the YMSIG regional representative.

The forum has already produced closer working on MIC, a more focused approach to its voice on the JBG, and a place for debate and discussion. The group had its first formal meeting on 30 November, which was also attended by Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, National MA Deputy Chair and Jon Collins, MA Chief Executive.

For more information, please click here to contact Chris Harrison

New magistrates’ webinar

This is a difficult time to be a magistrate, and especially trying for those who are new to the Bench – or were at the beginning of the pandemic. The MA would like to provide all new magistrates (and any longstanding magistrates who are interested) the opportunity to engage with and ask questions of four very experienced magistrates, covering all jurisdictions, as well as knowledge about training.

The Chairs of the MA Policy Committees will be hosting a one-hour webinar at 6pm on Wednesday 24 February. This webinar is chiefly intended for members who have been sworn in over the last 24 months, but is open to all MA members who are interested in attending.


  • 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.

To register for the webinar, please follow the link here:

Berkshire MA: AGM and members’ meeting

Berkshire MA members are invited to come together virtually for their upcoming AGM and members’ meeting. They will be joined by HHJ Jeff 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.

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

Coming up in the February-March 2021 issue of MAGISTRATE

The February-March issue of MAGISTRATE will be landing on doorsteps from 1 February.

This issue has a specific focus on the youth justice system. As Lynne Ravenscroft’s excellent series of articles – the latest of which is on pages 6-7 – has shown, youth justice has been central to the work of the MA throughout its history. This is still very much the case – our Youth Court Committee (YCC) continues to drive an important and influential programme of work, which is discussed by the YCC’s chair Linda Logan on page 20.

This issue’s youth focus also includes, among other articles, an interview with the Youth Justice Board’s chair Keith Fraser, an article by Dominic Goble on creating a problem-solving culture in Northamptonshire’s youth courts, and an article by Chris Stanley, representing the Michael Sieff Foundation, arguing that the youth and family jurisdictions need to be better aligned or even merged. We hope that these articles are of interest to all our members, whether or not you sit in the youth jurisdiction.

Members should also be aware of this issue’s ‘Cut-out-and-keep guide’ which sets out good practice guidance for youth courts in cases involving young people who are about to turn 18 while awaiting a National Referral Mechanism decision. This is part of a broader issue that was the focus of a motion at October’s AGM on defendants who have their 18th birthday while they are waiting for their cases to come to court and are therefore treated as adults. This is, the AGM decided, unfair and the MA will be pursuing ways to prevent this from happening.

Other features include:

  • A children’s rights approach to communicating sentences Newcastle Law School’s Professor Kathryn Hollingsworth’s research shows the importance of the language used when communicating with young people and the impact this can have on their future
  • Gloucestershire High Sheriff's Multi Agency Group Lindsay Baker shares the innovative and important work being done in her area to join up thinking and practice in youth services
  • The Secret Magistrate In the first of a regular column for MAGISTRATE, the author lets us in on what compelled them to take up their pen…
  • Magistrates and the family court Northamptonshire supplemental magistrate and former chair of Daventry Bench, Peter Riley, traces the origins of the family court
  • Members’ Spotlight: Meeting magistrates Merseyside magistrate and referee Jonathan Elliott shares his hopes for fair play in all aspects of life and draws parallels between his duties on the pitch and those in the courtroom
  • Working for you an update from the MA’s national chair Bev Higgs on what has been happening in recent months and what to expect in 2021
  • MA Special Interest Groups The MA’s director of membership Halita Obineche provides an update on our Special Interest Groups
  • Policy watch What the MA is doing about disproportionality in youth justice is covered by In depth, while In brief looks at other significant policy matters
  • Legal matters: Legal update Examining the new Code of Practice and new AG Guidelines on disclosure
  • Family law update The lack of secure accommodation for vulnerable children
  • Sentencing steps Young people appearing in the adult court and committal for sentence
  • Book review: Our Magistracy by John Hosking CBE JP West Sussex supplemental magistrate Dr Alan Forbes shares his views on this book, which he believes is likely to become a seminal work
  • Letters Views from members
  • Snippets Notes of interest from and for members


We hope that you are all keeping safe and well in these challenging times and especially that you are enjoying having more time to read your copy of MAGISTRATE!

Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG) 2021 National Conference

The next Young Magistrates Conference will take place on 13 February 2021. The keynote speaker will be Lady Hale, former President of the UK Supreme Court, who will discuss her career and the importance of diversity in public life.

The event will build on the success of this year's conference, which took place in February. You can find a summary of the previous event here.

You can find out more information about the YMSIG here.

MA Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form

In order to participate in an MA SIG, you must complete the MA Equality and Diversity Monitoring Form. If you have not already done so, please click here.

You are always able to update the form, so please do so if your circumstances have changed in any way.

We have recently made changes to how we record gender and gender identity, allowing members to indicate if their gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. If this is relevant to you and you wish to do so, you are able to update your information via the link provided.

Please note, we would like you to complete the form whether you are a sitting or retired member.


Coventry and Warwickshire MA: updates

Class of 2020

Coventry and Warwickshire MA recently welcomed 44 newly appointed family and criminal magistrates.  All are now sworn-in and completing training. In response, the Coventry and Warwickshire MA has launched an online peer support network to support our new Magistrates. 

The inaugural meeting took place in January and was well attended and informative, with lots of positive feedback.  Future meetings are planned for 17 February, 17 March and 21 April, all 6.30-8pm. The eetings are to be hosted by two newly appointed Magistrates who have joined the MA Executive Committee, Ravinder Gabbria-Nivas (family) and Alexander Cosic (crime).

Training matters

Coventry and Warwickshire MA hosted another online training session before Christmas, attracting over 60 Magistrates. The webinar was focused on the family court; speakers included the designated Family Crown Court Judge and Victim Support.  The next session is planned for 29 March. The event will have a West Midlands Police Superintendent speaking and include a focus on the family court with Warwickshire Social Services. 

Details will be shared shortly or you can click here to contact Paul Heathfield for further information.

For more information, please contact John Taylor

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