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The TRUNK November 2020

27 November 2020

SIG Updates

Meet the YMSIG Regional Leads

In April 2019, the MA established the Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG) to recognise and bring together MA members who are also members of groups the MA knows to be underrepresented within both the MA and the magistracy, as a whole. The YMSIG comprises all members of the MA who are under the age of 40 (with the option to remain a member until turning 42).

YMSIG aims

  • Provide opportunities for young magistrates to network with peers across the country;
  • Generate discourse around the issues affecting young magistrates (who are members of the MA) and advise, inform and work with MA HQ to address these issues; and
  • Advise, inform and work with MA HQ on the creation of routes to the recruitment of young magistrates.


YMSIG Regional Leads

In early 2020, the YMSIG’s national executive identified that the group would benefit from strong, regional links around England and Wales. Therefore, the group sought expressions of interest for YMSIG regional leads, with responsibility for:

  • Building and coordinating regional YMSIG events, ensuring there are strong networks for YMSIG members;
  • Acting as regional points of contact for YMSIG members in their region; and
  • Working with relevant MA branches to support outreach and recruit more MA members.


The YMSIG regional leads will focus their work on building stronger networks among YMSIG members, as it is recognised that there are relatively few young magistrates and therefore there are relatively few opportunities to meet other young magistrates at a branch or bench level.

In August 2020, the following YMSIG regional leads were appointed.

Ashley Mason JP

North East

Ashley is 30 and lives in York where he is a councillor; chairing the licensing committee. Appointed a JP in May 2018, he works within the education sector with responsibility for children’s health.


An active member of the Company of Merchant Adventurers, he will serve as York’s Sheriff in 2020.

Usman Rasul JP

North West

Appointed in November 2015, Usman sits on the Lancashire Bench, in both adult and family court. He is the MA Representative for Lancashire FTAAAC.


Professionally, Usman is an experienced optometrist who has provided in house support to students. He is a STEM Ambassador for optics. Usman is a former Healthcare Science T Level Advisory Panel Member, working with IfATE and NCFE.

Aarron Ewart JP



Aarron is 25 and studying Law at Worcester University. He sits on the Shropshire Bench. Covid has impacted his plans for sittings this year, however he’s been keeping busy over the summer as a Contact Tracer for Public Health England, and in his spare time he is an avid gamer!

Hannah Stanbridge JP

South East

Hannah was sworn in 2015 and sits in Bedfordshire. In addition to adult, she also sits at the Crown Court and in the Youth Court.


She is currently the Membership Secretary for Bedfordshire MA and assists the Communications Liaison in sending out local newsletters. She is excited to be in the position of YMSIG Regional Rep and looks forward to being part of the team that is developing the new role. She is keen to meet and hear from YMSIG members.

Megan Stone JP


Megan became a magistrate having researched judicial reform for her MA in Criminal Justice.


She looks forward to creating a stronger network of young magistrates in Wales, whilst providing an exciting opportunity to promote the magistracy and increase diversity at a time of significant change within the judicial system.



The Regional Lead positions for London and the South West have not yet been filled.


If you are interested in the roles or have queries about the wider YMSIG, please click here to contact the YMSIG national executive.

MA Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Special Interest Group launched

The MA is 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.

Each SIG will be tailored to the group it represents. The first of these to be launched was the Young Magistrates Special Interest Group (YMSIG), which was formed in consultation with young magistrates. It was launched in April 2019 and has undertaken a series of successful activities over the course of the last year. The MA LGBT+ Group was launched in December 2019. The Magistrates with Disabilities SIG (MWD SIG) and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic SIG (BAME SIG) were to have been launched earlier this year, but there were unfortunately considerable delays due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and staff furloughs. The former was launched in August 2020.

The fourth SIG to be launched is the BAME SIG. There is a clear need to engage new potential JPs from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, while also ensuring that current JPs feel heard and supported. While recruitment is not the remit of the MA, we are working to provide support for our members who identify as BAME and hope that the BAME SIG will eventually act as a national resource.

The MA is aware that the term ‘BAME’ is used as an umbrella term by government departments, public bodies, the media and others when referring to a range of ethnic minority groups, and that the BAME SIG will not be serving a homogenous group. As the SIG will be created and developed by those whom it is intended to serve, it is intended that it will evolve as required to best suit their varied needs and preferred terminology.

In December 2019, the 150 MA members who had identified themselves as BAME via the MA equality and diversity monitoring form at that time were contacted and asked if they would like to take part in a focus group, pursuant to the formation of a SIG.  The outreach was successful and several members came forward.

In January 2020, the BAME magistrates’ focus group was held at MA HQ. The participants were asked to discuss the feasibility and requirements of the SIG. They took part in a series of exercises to determine the appetite for a designated SIG, preferences as to its framework, and how the MA can better support existing BAME magistrates and break down some of the barriers preventing prospective BAME magistrates from applying.

These findings have informed the framework and initial activities of the MA BAME SIG. Please click for focus group findings and terms of reference

Election of MA BAME SIG executive

As detailed in the terms of reference, we will be seeking to elect an MA BAME SIG executive comprising a chair and two deputies. The process for this shall be as follows: 

  • Role descriptions and application forms will be sent out to all BAME SIG members on 24 November 2020
  • Eligible members will be invited to put themselves forward for the roles by midnight on 6 December 2020
  • If, for any role, there is only one applicant that person will be elected and confirmed in post on 7 December 2020
  • Should there be more than one applicant for any role, the applicants’ details will be sent to all BAME SIG members on 7 December 2020, along with a digital ballot, for them to cast their vote by midnight on 13 December
  • Week commencing 14 December: all members of the BAME SIG executive will be announced

If you have any queries about the BAME SIG or any other Special Interest Group, please email

North West Young Magistrates Meeting

There will be a NW YMSIG meeting on 2 December at 6.30pm. The event is open to all young magistrates in the North West, so do please invite your colleagues, even if they are not currently members of the MA. For more information, please click here to contact Usman Rasul.

For reference, the MA branches in the NW YMSIG are Cheshire, Cumbria North, Cumbria South, Greater Manchester, Lancashire County and Merseyside.

Do you want to join a MIC task group?

Magistrates in the Community (MIC) aims to educate the public on the role of magistrates and work of magistrates’ court. The initiative seeks to fulfil its aim through presenters from MA branches engaging with a wide range of audiences, including but not exclusively, schools, colleges and community groups.  Presentations, workshops and activities such as Mock Trials, are all be used to deliver an informative interaction appropriate to the audience.

The MIC Resource Group

The MIC Resource Group is an advisory group constituted to assist MA staff with the development, promotion and implementation of MIC activities. It seeks to:

  1. Act as a think tank for new MIC ideas suggested from within the Resource Group, staff or other MA members/branches.
  2. Review and refresh existing MIC materials on an ongoing basis.
  3. Create and develop new MIC materials on an ongoing basis.
  4. Discuss all pertinent points relating to MIC and suggest courses of action to the Board of Trustees and MA staff.
  5. Liaise with external organisations on the delivery or promotion of MIC activities, as agreed by the Resource Group.


While a framework of basic material has been produced, the bulk of MIC Resource Group work will be focused on the development of materials for at least the next two years.

Task groups

The MIC Resource Group comprises three discrete task groups. Each group works to develop one of the MIC strands identified for the next three years. Namely:

  • Schools
  • Community
  • Corporate


Current recruitment

We are currently recruiting members to join the Schools and Community task groups.

We are seeking volunteers who have experience in presenting Magistrates in the Community sessions, either to school groups or community groups, who have the time to develop our materials in a variety of ways. 

We had been working on producing issue led materials, covering issues such as knife crime and coercive control, before the pandemic, but this work was interrupted by the events of this year.  As well as continuing work on issue led materials for schools and community groups, task group members will be asked to adapt existing MIC material and make it suitable for virtual presentations.

As well as experienced MIC presenters, we also welcome applications from members who have relevant non-magisterial experience and skills – gained in work or via other volunteering.  

If this opportunity is of interest, please click here to contact us.  Applications close at midnight on 11 December.

Birmingham MA: online session with Ginny Davis

Birmingham MA members are invited to join an online talk with Ginny Davis called ‘From the Pillory to the Prison cell.’ The event will take place on 8 December at 7pm.

Early criminal trials were short and swift. Defendants were not entitled to give evidence in their own defence. Punishment was usually brutal and public. By the 18th century, the English legal system was nicknamed ‘the Bloody Code’, as more than two hundred crimes – ranging from impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner to high treason – were punishable by death. In the following centuries, the penal system introduced alternative forms of sentence, including transportation, hard labour, penal servitude and, eventually, imprisonment.

Ginny Davis chronicles this fascinating period of change in judicial and government treatment of criminals – with examples of felons, their crimes and sentences – in a talk which includes the origin in capital punishment of several modern-day expressions. ‘From the Pillory to the Prison Cell' will provide a light-hearted but accurate account of sentencing from the 15th to the 21st century, illustrating how policy moved from retribution and deterrence to include reform. The informative talk will also outline a fascinating period of change in the judicial and government treatment of criminals.

Ginny Davis gained a first class honours degree in Law from the University of Cambridge and practised as a criminal barrister. She now writes full time and performs her own material. Ginny was also born in Birmingham.

To book a place for the online session, please click here to contact Margaret Windsor.

Coventry & Warwickshire MA: virtual training event

Coventry & Warwickshire MA members are invited to join a virtual training event taking place on 30 November at 6.30pm.

The meeting will take place via MS teams and will be focussing on the Family Court and Restorative Justice. Attendees will be joined by HHJ Elizabeth Walker, Coventry & Warwickshire MA Vice President and designated family judge for Coventry & Warwickshire and Mike Bailey and Lorna Cousins from Victim Support.

All Coventry & Warwickshire MA members should have received a calendar invite with access to the Teams Link.  Alternatively, you can access the event here.

The last event attracted over 50 MA members so the branch hopes to have a similar attendance this time. All those members who attend will also receive a certificate for their appraisal portfolio.

This event is also open to non-MA members, although the branch encourages everyone to join the MA!

For further information please click here to contact Paul Heathfield

Middlesex MA: presentation by Wormwood Scrubs Prison Governor

Middlesex MA hosted a presentation by Jonathan French, Governor of Wormwood Scrubs, on 19 November.

At the request of the other London MA chairs, the event was opened to all MA members in London, and an impressive 140 tuned in.

Jonathan gave a frank and moving presentation about the challenges of running the establishment, particularly during the pandemic. The event has received excellent feedback, with attendees saying they found Jonathan inspiring in his compassion for the prison inmates and his staff.  

Due to the success of the webinar, a follow-up event has been agreed in the spring.

The event was also recorded and will be posted in due course on the MA website here.

For more information, please click here to contact Roger King.

MA webinar: understanding defendant maturity in the criminal court

The MA’s last webinar of the year takes place on 1 December from 2-3pm, and you can book your place here. 

The topic of the webinar is ‘understanding defendant maturity in the criminal court’. It will cover the relevance of maturity to court; brain development and maturity; how maturity can affect participation and behaviour in court; and maturity and sentencing decisions. 

Retired Member Event: Christmas quiz

This year, Covid-19 has affected events all across the world, and our MA national retired members events were cancelled because of this. We have missed doing these events and have been thinking of a way to bring our retired members together. As a result, our upcoming retired members’ event will be a bit different this year. We have decided to host a Zoom quiz that will be held on 15 December at 3-5pm, where you will be put into teams to complete the quiz. We think this will be a great opportunity to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and reunite with fellow colleagues!

For more, information please contact Membership.

Coming up in the December 2020-January 2021 issue of MAGISTRATE

The December-January issue of MAGISTRATE will be landing on doorsteps from 1 December.

In this issue the new MA Chair Bev Higgs shares her vision for the future and the MA Deputy Chairs, Alison Spurgeon-Dickson and Mark Beattie, introduce themselves.

This issue also contains the last in a series of articles by Dr Anne Logan on the history of the MA, which have run through our centenary year. This one covers the last 50 years and, like its predecessors, is well worth reading. There is also the last in our series of ‘Past meets future’ articles – in this one Joyce Harasowska, aged 94, reflects on her 46 years on the bench and is interviewed by Dan Longman, who has just been elected onto the MA’s Board of Trustees.

Other features include:

  • The Criminal Procedure Rule Committee An interview with Louise Bryant the magistrate representative on the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee
  • Do we need to convict here? Some reflections on the prosecution of careless and dangerous driving A look at recent research which emphasises the importance of considering the harm risked rather than caused when prosecuting road traffic offences
  • Contact between children in care or adopted and their families Six key messages from the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • London family magistrates – how we are coping… Senior Legal Manager for the London family courts Judith Francis talks about how London family magistrates have coped during the pandemic
  • The Sentencing Council annual review Sentencing Council member and Sussex Central Bench magistrate Jo King looks back over the year
  • A Place to Go Like This An examination of what all agencies can do to break the cycle of harm for mothers involved in offending who are survivors of abuse, and their children
  • The Swing Riots and the end of paternalistic justice in Sussex Graham O'Rourke JP of West Sussex MA outlines the background of poverty and dissatisfaction in 19th century rural Sussex, which led to riots and the eventual undermining of magisterial authority
  • MA AGM and Awards 2020 The MA’s Director of Membership Halita Obineche reports on the latest MA national events
  • 2020 Vision: 100 Years of Justice Latest news about the MA exhibition
  • Report from the November Council meeting MA Chief Executive Jon Collins provides an update
  • Policy watch: In depth Taking a close look at the government White Paper on sentencing
  • Legal update Stephen Leake reports on the Sentencing Code, alcohol abstinence monitoring requirements, the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines’ updates, custody time limits, and requirement to state nationality
  • Family law update Considering similar fact evidence in family proceedings
  • Sentencing steps Sentencing without an offence-specific guideline and recommendations for deportation
  • MA guide to neurodiversity
  • JP stories A full page of your amusing courtroom tales!


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!

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