News and Comments

The TRUNK November 2019

The Trunk: where branches come together

26 November 2019

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. 


South & South East London MA: celebrating Lynne Ramsay

South & South East London MA retired member, Lynne Ramsay, has received a St Martin’s Honorary Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to services for frontotemporal dementia. 

For over 20 years, Lynne has supported patients and families with Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia. During this time, she has been the Chair of the Alzheimer's Society Research Lay Panel and an external reviewer of research. In a voluntary capacity she has appealed many employment dismissal cases involving unexplained changes in employee behaviour often related to neurodegenerative conditions.  As a result of her campaigning, several cases have been reopened enabling the obtainment of medical pensions protecting homes and families. As a Magistrate of over 20 years on the South East London Bench, she developed training for judges and magistrates on mental health, diversion and legislation which has been used nationally and internationally.

The St Martin’s Awards have been established by EdmissionUK, to focus on the outstanding and often unrecognised work of individuals within the prisons and criminal justice system.  Other winners included Pia Sinha of HMP Liverpool, Tony Adams, MBE, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to services for mental health and addiction and, in recognition of the positive contribution a former prisoner, Paula Harriott, Head of Prisoner Involvement at Prison Reform Trust (PRT).

Please join South & South East London MA and the national MA in congratulating Lynne on this fantastic and well-earned achievement!

Lynne is pictured with the ex-Arsenal footballer Tony Adams, after receiving her award

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  

Leicestershire and Rutland MA – annual autumn event and AGM

On 22 October, Leicestershire and Rutland MA held its annual autumn event and AGM held at Leicester Town Hall. The event focussed on local strategies for tackling knife crime. It was hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leicester and attended by civic dignitaries, legal representatives, partner agencies and local magistrates.

An excellent presentation was provided by two representatives from Leicestershire Police Force, describing the increasing prevalence of knife related crimes nationally and locally. Data illustrated trends across the age groups and the measures taken to address these crimes.  A recent local survey targeting younger people showed that one sixth of the respondents admitted carrying a knife, mainly for personal protection.  It was reported that there is often a sense of kudos through carrying a knife.  A powerful video clip showed the impacts on family and the community following the death of a young person from a stabbing incident.

The Branch was also able to showcase its 2020 Centenary Celebration plans and deliver its Annual Report and Accounts.

The event received excellent feedback summarised by: ‘A very useful evening, thank you and well done!’

For more information, please click here to contact Elaine Swanson.

MA equality and diversity monitoring form

In order to ensure that we are providing you with the highest quality of support, the MA needs to get to know our membership better.

We’d like to know the jurisdiction(s) in which you sit, your employment status, caring responsibilities and whether you are a member of any traditionally underrepresented groups. This information will help us better understand the needs of our members and provide us with a snapshot of the sitting and retired magistracy, as a whole.

If you have not already done so, we request that you click here and complete the monitoring form that we have created for this purpose. Completion of the form is voluntary, and the information provided will be entirely confidential and used for MA purposes, only. We may provide an overview of demographic data to HM Courts and Tribunals Service or related bodies from time to time, but we will never disclose your personal information without your explicit consent. Please note, we would like you to complete the form whether you are a sitting or retired member.


MA AGM, Conference and Awards Dinner feedback survey

MA Chair at MA Annual General MeetingThis year’s MA AGM, Conference and Awards Dinner took place in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 19 October.

  • 218 people attended this year’s conference.
  • 108 people attended the awards dinner.
  • 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.

Some quotes from attendees:

  • This was my first conference, I really enjoyed it and it was great to see such a focus of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
  • I felt the speakers were excellent and felt my morale improved as it went on, it made me feel valued as a magistrate.
  • The themes of equality and the changing face of the magistracy were really important to me and I felt included and supported.
  • Fantastic speakers, really relevant to myself and the bench. Great to see equality and diversity be at the front rather than an afterthought, I felt proud and valued to be part of the justice system.

The 2020 MA AGM, Conference and Awards will be held on 17 October, at Plaisterers’ Hall in London. Please click here to register. 

New MA branch portal

Over the past months, the national office has been upgrading our website and migrating our database to a new fit for purpose system. We launched online registration two months ago and are now happy to announce the launch of our branch portal.

The branch portal allows branch database users from each branch – who are nominated by the branch executive – to view and communicate with their local membership. Branches are now able to view their sitting and retired members, recent recruits and membership cancellations. They are able to analyse this data or send emails to selected members or groups of members.

Branch executives may nominate as many database users as they feel appropriate. For more information on this, please contact us at


Coventry and Warwickshire MA: update                         

New Branch Chair

Coventry and Warwickshire MA is delighted to announce that Davinda Janda is its new Branch Chair.

Retired magistrates’ Christmas tea party

The Coventry and Warwickshire Christmas tea party for retired magistrates takes place on 4 December.   A joint event between the MA Branch and Bench, it takes place at 2pm at Coventry Magistrates Court and around 50 Magistrates are expected to attend.  Next year the Branch plans to increase the number of local events it runs for retired colleagues. For more details please click here to contact Sue Jeffs.

Magistrates in the Community

During the autumn term the Coventry and Warwickshire MA MIC team will have undertaken a staggering 50 school visits across Coventry and Warwickshire.  As part of its visits to primary schools, some Year 6 pupils take on the role of court journalist and court artist during the mock trial element.  There have been some brilliant artistic contributions. The two displayed are thanks to pupils aged 10 and 11 from St Osburg’s and Gosford Park schools.

This year, with the support of Head Teachers, Coventry and Warwickshire MA has developed and adopted a MIC safeguarding policy. This has already been implemented twice this term, when children have disclosed sensitive information that may put them at harm. 

Successful funding

The Coventry and Warwickshire MA Executive Committee recently submitted two grant applications…..and both have been successful!

The branch has been awarded £8,400 from the National Lottery to support a range of MA activities in 2020.  This will include a centenary conference, retired magistrates’ events, educational resources, mock trial competitions, and volunteer expenses and celebration. Look out for details in 2020!

The branch has also been awarded £200 from the MA to run a centenary event in 2020.

For more information on any of the Branch’s activities, please click here to contact John Taylor

MIC activity of the month!

Nottinghamshire MA MIC welcomes supplemental justices

MIC is thriving and busy in Nottinghamshire. 28 events will have been held between September and December 2019. The events are mainly court visits, presentations in the community and work with the Nottingham Trent Law School. MIC will have interacted with almost 500 members of the community!

There is a core group of 25 sitting and eight supplemental magistrates who volunteer to host and deliver MIC events. The supplemental magistrates are key to the success of the group. They have contributed to 21 of Nottinghamshire MA’s MIC events this autumn. They regularly attend meetings and contribute to forward planning.

During 2019, Nottinghamshire MA has been able to encourage and support supplemental magistrates by arranging access cards to the courthouse allowing retired colleagues to park.  The Branch has also provided a grant to enable those supplemental magistrates to claim travel expenses.  

All magistrates who are about to retire are contacted and offered the opportunity to observe a couple of events in the hope they would like to join the group. In short, Nottinghamshire MA is delighted to have the services of supplemental colleagues with the wealth of experience and skills they bring to MIC work.

If you have any queries, please click here to contact Pat Walsh.

MA national office hosts ‘study abroad’ interns

My name is Madeline Sparks, and I am studying abroad in London until December. Coming from a small town in the United States, the transition has been simultaneously overwhelming and rewarding. My study abroad experience included the opportunity to take an international internship. During the first week of September, I began interning with the Magistrates Association in London. When I received this internship placement, I knew little about the role or functions of magistrates. However, over the course of these three months, I have come to appreciate the magistracy and its importance in the legal system. 

As a whole, my time with the MA has been enlightening and enjoyable. I have come to understand the differences between US and UK workplaces, as well as differences in our legal systems. Additionally, I have enjoyed the opportunity to correspond with some of you. This has helped me develop better communication skills and I am appreciative of the patience and kindness you demonstrated towards me. As I finish my time with the MA, I wish you and the magistracy the best. All of you, both active and retired, do wonderful work in your communities. If I were a citizen of the United Kingdom, I believe I should like to become a magistrate.

Madeline is a junior at Samford University studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration. After graduating from Samford, Madeline is interested in pursuing a career in law or politics. Madeline has previously interned for a United States Senator in Washington, D.C.

Welsh MA Branches prepare to celebrate 100 Years of the Magistrates Association

Arrangements are under way to make 2020 a big year for magistrates in Wales. So far, a definite event is the Brecon Cathedral MA 100 Year Service, to be delivered by the Archbishop of Wales.

All serving and retired magistrates and partners from Wales are invited, along with dignitaries from around the Principality. Please save Sunday 3 May at 3:30pm as a date for your diary, if this is an event which you would like to attend.

In an exciting development, the Deputy Minister for Wales, Jane Hutt, will be hosting a 100 Year MA Reception at the Senedd for all Welsh magistrates. This has just been confirmed and no further details are available at present, but as soon as a date and details are finalised, they will be circulated.

In September 2020, another event for Wales will take place from 13 – 17 September, when the Commonwealth Magistrates' & Judges Association celebrate their 50th anniversary, and have picked Cardiff City Hall to do so. As well as offering some practical help with this event, it is hoped that the MA in Wales will have some part in the programme. The Welsh MA Branches also intend to put on an evening event for magistrates that will take advantage of eminent judicial visitors coming to the capital and again, further information will be circulated when this is finalised.

For more information on the planned events, please click here to contact John Viney.

West Glamorgan MA: visit to HMP Parc Young Persons Unit

West Glamorgan MA recently organised visits to the Young Persons Unit HMP Parc for the youth panel, with three visits taking place during September.

The Young Persons Unit houses 64 young males aged 15–17 years of age. At the time of the visits only one young offender was from Wales, with the others coming from across England.

The panel were shown both wings where they were able to speak with young offenders who were happy to give a tour of their cells.

The panel also visited the education department, along with the very well-equipped gym and spoke with a few of the staff. They were shown some of the interesting work done by the young people through the medium of art, music and carpentry.

Staff explained that the core objectives of the unit are to prevent re-offending and promote resettlement opportunities for young people. They were proud to share a recent inspection report, which may be viewed by clicking here.

For more information on the visits, please click here to contact Alison Davies.

West Glamorgan MA: welcoming new magistrates!

Members of West Glamorgan MA were pleased to attend the swearing in ceremony for the latest intake of magistrates at Swansea Crown Court on 14 November 2019.  

Judge Paul Thomas QC presided over the ceremony, along with the Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan, Mr D. Byron Lewis; the High Sheriff of West Glamorgan, Ms Sally Goldstone; and Chair of the West Glamorgan Bench, Mr Stephen Rogers.

After the ceremony, West Glamorgan MA hosted a small reception for the ten new magistrates and their families. It was a really lovely morning, and over tea and cakes, the Branch members enjoyed getting to know their new colleagues and answering questions as they anticipated their first sittings. 

The Branch also took the opportunity to introduce the new magistrates to the MA, give each of them an information pack and details of upcoming activities being organised by West Glamorgan MA.  They are delighted to report that several of their new colleagues have since joined!

Chair & Deputy Chair Branch Visits

John Bache, Chair

Attended visits

1 November 2019      Wolds and South Yorkshire MA
2 November 2019      Staffordshire MA
7 November 2019      Berkshire MA 
9 November 2019      Dyfed MA 
14 November 2019    Worcestershire MA
16 November 2019    Buckinghamshire MA

28 March 2020           Northamptonshire MA

Beverley Higgs, Deputy Chair

2 November 2019 Oxfordshire MA

Alison Spurgeon-Dickson, Deputy Chair

2 November   2019 Lancashire County MA

500 Club - November WINNERS

1st Prize – Francesca Nowne (East Sussex)
2nd Prize – Karl Landeg (Mid and South Glamorgan)
3rd Prize – Olive Francis (Mid and South Glamorgan)

Coventry and Warwickshire MA Training Event

Saturday 30th November 2019
CU Coventry building at 8 Mile Lane in Coventry, CV1 2TU
(just past Elm Bank) - free parking on site or a 5 minute walk from Magistrate Court

Policing Coventry
Chief Inspector Paul Minor

The role of High Sheriff of Warwickshire, with former High Sheriff
Clare Sawdon JP

09:00 - Coffee and Biscuits
09:30 - Chief Inspector Paul Minor
10:30 - Break for refreshments
10:45 - Clare Sawdon JP
12:00 - Finish

Entry is free to MA members, with a training certificate for your Appraisal Portfolio.
There is a £5 charge for non-members to cover costs or you may join the MA on the day.
Please let us know whether you will be attending for catering purposes.

If you wish to attend please contact Stephen Westwood

Investing in special guardianship: Challenges in law, policy and practice

5th December 2019, 10am-4pm (registration 9.30am)
A conference hosted by the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, Lancaster University and CoramBAAF
at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Coram Campus, 41 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AZ 

Attendance of this event is free and is funded by Lancaster University

The Honourable Mr Justice Keehan, Chair of the Public Law Working Group

Deirdre Fottrell QC, 1 GC Family Law, London

John Simmonds OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development, CoramBAAF

Cathy Ashley, Chief Executive, Family Rights Group

Lucy Peake, Chief Executive, Grandparents Plus

Maxine Campbell, Special guardian and Kinship Connected Project Worker at Grandparents Plus  

Professor Judith Harwin, Co-director, Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, Lancaster University

Professor Karen Broadhurst (Conference Chair) Co-director, Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, Lancaster University

To book a place, please email

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

Dates for the Autumn 2019 / Winter 2020 for the following visits:

HMP Manchester:

Thursday 19thth December 2019   9am - 12noon [arrive 08.40am]     7 places available

HMP Forest Bank:

Thursday 5th December 2019 @ 9.30am   2 Places available

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


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