News and Comments

The TRUNK September 2020


25 September 2020

2020 Vision: 100 Years of Justice now live online!

Kristina Nabažaitė, Past: Children's Rights

Go to http://ma100yearsofjustice.com/  to experience our groundbreaking online exhibition in celebration of the MA’s centenary.

The MA centenary art exhibition explores the concept of justice. It comprises 20 original artworks, commissioned from 20 diverse, contemporary artists and is both a retrospective view of 100 years of the history of justice in the UK and a gaze into the future.

The 10 exhibition themes are topical issues around which both legislation and societal attitudes have evolved considerably in the last century, and might conceivably evolve even further. These 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

 

Each theme has been allocated to two artists, one with a brief that explores its history and the other tasked with looking at its future and evolution. Our 20 artists are from a range of backgrounds and locations throughout England and Wales, and were selected from a whopping 110 entries to our exhibition.

Taking into account the current government guidance and our concerns for the optimum safety of our members, the MA has cancelled all physical exhibitions. The action is instead being brought to you exclusively online at http://ma100yearsofjustice.com/

Magistrates with disabilities Special Interest Group (MWD SIG) executive elected

The election ended on 10 September. There were a number of passionate applications for the available posts and a good voter turnout.  We are delighted to announce that the inaugural MA MWD SIG executive shall comprise:

  • David Rose, Essex MA, MWD SIG Chair
  • Christine Chamberlain, North & Central London MA, MWD SIG Deputy Chair
  • Nora Sopworth, Lancashire MA, MWD SIG Deputy Chair

 

Please join us in congratulating them on their appointment. They will shortly be in touch with MWD SIG members, outlining their plans for the group.

If you would like to contact the MWDSIG directly, please click here.

The MWD SIG is the third of the MA’s special Interest Groups to be launched. Please click here for more information on MA SIGs.

MA Webinars

We are also happy to announce that we have added a new webinar to the line-up, and on 16 October, Michael Seath, Head of Legal Operations for HMCTS Midlands Region, will be delivering a session focusing on family court, and the response to coronavirus.

Details of the upcoming events may be found below, and you may register by clicking here.

Date

Time

Duration

Topic

Speaker(s)

16 October

2pm

1 hour

Family courts: a session focusing on family court, and the response to coronavirus.

Michael Seath, Head of Legal Operations for HMCTS Midlands Region and Family Lead

17 October

10.30am

2 hours and 45 minutes

AGM

The Rt Hon Lord Burnett of Maldon Kt PC, Lord Chief Justice

11 November

6.30pm

1 hour

An evening with the MA Chair and Deputy Chairs

  • Beverley Higgs JP, MA National Chair 
  • Mark Beattie JP, MA Deputy Chair 
  • Dr Alison Spurgeon-Dickson JP, MA Deputy Chair 

 

All our webinars will be recorded and may later be viewed online, so don’t worry if you can’t make it to one. If you missed our previous webinars  – which have included Stalking Awareness for Magistrates presented by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust; civil rights lawyer Maya Sikand discussing disproportionality; the Sentencing Council giving an overview of the new mental health guidelines; and Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive of HMCTS discussing the impact of Coronavirus on the courts – they are now available to view online. Please click here to view past webinars.

Your membership number is located in your TRUNK email, as you may need it to access the site.

First year as a magistrate

My first year as a newly sworn in magistrate has not quite gone to plan.

I had wanted to become for many years and applied 13 years ago but then there was a major recruitment freeze which meant my application did not progress.

Then two years ago a friend told me he had recently become a magistrate and told me of when the next recruitment drive was. I spoke to my husband and my employer and applied and then kept my fingers crossed. I did court observations which made me even keener to become a magistrate and see what goes on behind the scenes.

It was so exciting to receive the emails inviting me to be interviewed. I had my interviews in Birmingham Magistrates court which is an amazing piece of architecture. I was extremely nervous about them and just hoped I had done enough to be selected.

After many months of waiting due to unforeseen circumstances I finally received an email to say I had been successful. I had to discuss my appointment with my employer as there were various HR issues to look into. It was the first time they had to look at how they dealt with the issues and had to draw up new procedures.

Met with the rest of my cohort that were recruited at our 3 day training which was so informative, taxing on the brain and totally nerve wracking. I didn’t think I would remember anything and wasn’t sure if I could do the role.

We were then sworn in which was a lovely afternoon and got to meet a number of high ranking dignitries as well as our mentors. It was lovely to see how proud our families and friends were of us all.

Then came the real work. My first mentored sitting was a real eye opener and I really did feel like a rabbit in the headlights. Trying to keep up with everything and using the ipad at the same time is a real skill that takes a bit of getting used to.

I completed a number of sittings with many different and very experienced magistrates and learnt new things all the time.

Then came lockdown just after my interim appraisal. As we know all the courts were closed and therefore all our sittings cancelled. It was hard to see how things would get back to normal.

However once the courts reopened the processes were adapted really well to keep staff, magistrates and the public safe. We all dealt with new procedures and protocol.

Since lockdown eased, I have sat several times and love being back in the court room. I have sat on listed courts with half hour slots and video screen courts. It was a really good session as we travelled all round the West Midlands police stations from the comfort of my magistrates chair.

Everyone keeps talking about the ‘new normal’. I think the way the courts operate will be reviewed and look at how things can be done differently and perhaps improved over time.

I have loved every second of my first year as a magistrate and find every moment is a learning experience. Even the retiring times in between cases gives the opportunity to talk to fellow magistrates and share information and knowledge. I have even supported a friend who has now applied to become a magistrate.

I am waiting to complete my appraisal and then continue on for many more years to come. I can honestly say becoming a magistrate has been one of the best experiences of my life.

Sangita Mundy

Coventry & Warwickshire MA

Bedfordshire MA: seeking MIC presenters

Despite the delayed appointment of new Bedfordshire magistrates this year, the branch is still keen to recruit and train MiC trainers who can assist in its community work.

If you are a member of Bedfordshire MA and are interested in joining Magistrates in the Community then please click here to contact Branch Chair, John Pickersgill, who will be pleased to give you more information about this interesting, essential and important role.

AND SOMETHING EXTRA!

Shazia Book JP on the Muslim Women’s Network UK ‘Your Next Civic Role? Become a Magistrate in England’ event

On 9 September, I and two other MA members, Shereen Williams and Sonal Dave, were asked to speak at the Muslim Women’s Network UK ‘Your Next Civic Role? Become a Magistrate in England’ event. 

The Muslim Women’s Network UK is partner to the Fawcett Society project ‘Equal Power’ to transform women’s representation, as MPs, Councillors, as well as leading change in their local communities.  

Along with my two fellow magistrates we focused on four key areas; our personal journey to becoming magistrates and the barriers we faced being from ethnic minority communities; what the application process was like; what the role involves; and - perhaps most importantly - why someone would want to become a magistrate.  

One of the key areas we discussed was the stereotypical image of a magistrate –and how now more then ever there is a need for greater representation of all ethnic minorities in the judiciary. We also discussed how having an interest in civic duty as well as wanting to make a genuine difference in our local communities was essential to being an effective magistrate and how there are few civic roles that allow you to make such an impactful difference, although we might have been a bit biased on that one! 

The event provided a great platform to showcase that magistrates can come from diverse academic, work, and social backgrounds.  Based on the success of this event MWNU are planning for run more of them in the future. I want to thank the MA for giving me the platform to participate in this event. 

Shazia Latif Book

Greater Manchester MA

Berkshire MA: members’ meeting

Berkshire MA members are invited to join together virtually for its AGM and members meeting on 30 September at 7.30om. The meeting will take place via Zoom and they will be joined by Detective Chief Inspector Jason Kew as guest speaker.

DCI Kew is the Violence Reduction Unit, Drugs, Exploitation & Harm Reduction Lead for both Thames Valley Police & SEROCU. He is putting together a draft presentation and he will aim to cover the broad spectrum of evolving drug policy including the work of Thames Valley’s Violence reduction unit, including how TVP has developed a leading role in certain areas of policy which is informing Ministers and law makers. See also

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/apr/24/cant-arrest-your-way-out-record-drug-related-deaths-say-police

Bring drinks and nibbles to your own choice!

Cheshire MA: Autumn conference and AGM

Cheshire MA will be holding its annual conference and AGM via Zoom on the morning of the 7 November 2020. 

The branch has a number of interesting speakers lined up, including a keynote speech from Mr Justice Spencer, presentations by the NW Ambulance Service on the subject of Assault Emergency Workers, and a talk from HH Judge Parker on a family oriented topic.

Cheshire MA members are asked to watch out for the invitation and instructions as to how to join this conference in their email during the next few weeks.

For more information, please contact Alan Eyres

Greater Manchester MA: AGM

Greater Manchester MA will be holding its AGM by Zoom conferencing on 7 October at 6pm. More details to follow.

The guest speaker is Alison Mutch, Senior Coroner South Manchester

If you have any queries, please click here to contact Peter Faulkner.

Coventry and Warwickshire MA: update

MIC activity to resume

Magistrates in the Community (MIC) activity resumes in Coventry and Warwickshire on 1 October, after the Covid-19 suspension in March.  Over the summer the branch has worked with Head Teachers and the two Council Education departments to develop Covid guidance that details the mitigations we will take to keep everyone safe.  This has led to the adaptation of certain aspects of its three hour primary school workshop. 

Also over the summer, the branch MIC team has updated all its educational materials including introducing a new trial script on cyber bullying (harassment with threats of violence).  Thanks to all the hard working volunteer presenters, they plan to deliver 3 or 4 workshops each week across the city and county.

New magistrates appointed

In Coventry and Warwickshire, 44 new Magistrates have been to the family and crime courts appointed in the last year.  The branch has written to all 44, welcoming them to the Bench, encouraging them to join the MA, and offering them a welcome present (canvas bag, pictured).  So far the sign up rate to join the MA has been very encouraging.

AGM

The branch AGM and training event takes place virtually on 29 September with guest speakers Crown court Judge HHJ Lockhart QC and HMCTS Deputy Justices Clerk, Chris Woodrow. 

All members are welcome to attend. If you would like to request more information, please click here to contact John Taylor.

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.

Listening to them I’ve often thought they deserved a wider audience both within the magistracy and potentially beyond (thoroughly anonymised of course!).

So please do share your stories – of yesterday or yesteryear, BC (before Covid) or mid-pandemic.

They can be as short as you like, but please no more than 500 words unless they really really need it. If you have several stories to send, that’s fine. The more the merrier.

The plan is to feature the best in an occasional slot in MAGISTRATE magazine, and if I receive enough good ones, then potentially in a book anthology as well.

Please include your name and bench (these will not be published – the stories need to be completely anonymous for obvious reasons). By sending your stories you are agreeing to their use, sensibly edited if necessary, for the above purposes.

Please send stories to jpstories@magistrates-association.org.uk.  I very much look forward to reading them.

Juliet Rix Middlesex MA

All the webinars begin at 4.30pm and last for half an hour. No registration is required. To join, please click on this link on the day: https://judicialcollege.judiciary.gov.uk/course/view.php?id=4321 

Judicial College webinars

The Judicial College is holding the following webinars:

  • 01 October – Tips for working with single and multiple screens (all judiciary with a Windows 10 device (including open build and DOM1) Not suitable for Apple users)
  • 15 October – Tips for effective communications during remote hearings (all judicial office-holders)
  • 29 October – PDF Xchange Editor Part 2 (salaried judiciary)
  • 12 November – Microsoft Teams on Windows 10 (salaried judiciary)
  • 26 November – Microsoft Teams on Windows 10 (fee-paid judiciary and magistrates)
  • 10 December – Microsoft Teams on Windows 10 (all judicial office-holders)

All the webinars begin at 4.30pm and last for half an hour. No registration is required. To join, please click on this link on the day: https://judicialcollege.judiciary.gov.uk/course/view.php?id=4321 

Have you completed the 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 know our membership better. To enhance our understanding of members’ needs, we’d like to find out the jurisdiction(s) in which you sit, your employment status, caring responsibilities and whether you are a member of any traditionally underrepresented groups.
  
If you have not already done so, we request that you go to https://www.magistrates-association.org.uk/Members-Area/Equality-and-Diversity-Monitoring-Form and complete the voluntary monitoring form that we have created for this purpose. The information provided will be entirely confidential and used for MA purposes, only. 

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

YOU WILL NEED TO BE LOGGED INTO YOUR MA ACCOUNT TO COMPLETE THE FORM

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