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The TRUNK March 2021

26 March 2021

Magistrates Association announces interim Chief Executive

As many of you will know, Jon Collins has left the MA and recruitment has been completed for his successor. Tom Franklin will be joining the MA from Young Citizens in mid-June. In the meantime Mark Beattie (Deputy National Chair) will be standing in as Interim Chief Executive. Mark writes: “I am delighted to be stepping in to this role, even for a few months and look forward to working with the staff team and the wider MA Family, covering for the short transition. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at my email address –"

MA Council meeting

The next MA Council meeting will take place on Wednesday 12 May at 11.30am-4pm.

It will be an online event, utilising Zoom.

We are delighted to announce that Nicole Jacobs, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, will be joining us as guest speaker on the day.

If there are any issues that you would like to see on the agenda to be discussed, please raise them with your Council representative. They will be able to submit agenda requests at any point prior to midnight on Sunday 18 April.

For more information, please contact Membership.

REMINDER: Nominations for YMSIG Executive close on Sunday!

The two-year term of the first executive of the MA’s Young Magistrates’ Special Interest Group is drawing to a close. We will shortly be holding elections to allow you to elect a new executive and are seeking self-nominations for the roles of chair and deputy chairs.

All members under the age of 40 are eligible to put themselves forward for the roles using the application form by Sunday 28 March

Election of YMSIG executive

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

·       Please see attached role descriptions and application forms for the YMSIG executive. Eligible members are invited to put themselves forward for the roles using the application form by 28 March. Please note that members of the current executive are able to put themselves forward again, to serve a second term.

·       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 midnight on 14 April.

·       16 April: all members of the YMSIG  executive will be announced

MA LGBT+ Group meet virtually to celebrate LGBT+ History month

The MA LGBT+ Group was formed just over a year ago to work with the MA and other relevant bodies on issues affecting LGBT+ people, including recruitment and retention of LGBT+ magistrates.

Whilst the pandemic set some things back a little, and there has been a personnel change within the exec, the Group are proud of what they have done so far, and excited for the future.

Their third get-together was held via MS Teams at the end of February - LGBT History month - primarily to allow the wider Group to question the exec on their achievements to date and offer feedback and suggestions on where they would like to see the Group go next.

The Exec have agreed that improving our public profile is a key way to improving LGBT+ representation.  So, as well as the interviews and social media posts, they are working with Judicial Office and the other MA SIGs, to understand how they can support each other.

Vaccines and Covid variants depending, there is a hope that later in the year the Group will be able to meet in person!

In the coming weeks, members of the Group can expect to receive a survey from the exec to understand more about their personal experiences.  The results of this will shape the future of the Group and help the exec understand where to focus their efforts.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the Group or you have any questions for the exec (Tom, Dan and Mark), please email


Practical things to know before your first sitting as a magistrate, for someone who has recently had their first sitting by Rob Sassoon JP

  • Get in touch with your mentor a week before to arrange what time you’ll arrive
  • If you’re driving and your court has a car park, arrange to meet your mentor round the corner as you may need a pass to get into the car park
  • Hopefully Security will have a pass ready for you, but perhaps contact your local admin team to double check this in advance
  • Find out about tea and coffee arrangements – my court wasn’t providing anything except cups and hot water
  • Bring a spare pen – someone may need to borrow one – and a bottle of water
  • Get to grips with the iPad when you arrive, and remember to refresh the Bench Dashboard every 2 hours or it’ll time out
  • Ask for a tour of the back areas of the building, so you know your way round
  • Enjoy the day, but keep a poker face in court!


For more information, please contact Rob Sassoon

Coventry and Warwickshire MA updates

Upcoming training event

Coventry and Warwickshire MA’s next training event takes place on the evening of 29 March via MS Teams. Joanne Redmond, Senior Solicitor for Warwickshire Social Services talking about “Social Services and Child Protection in the time of Covid” and Superintendent, Ronan Tyrer will be discussing “Current Policing Priorities”.

For further information or if you have a suggestion for a future training topic please contact Training Officer, Paul Heathfield.

Launch of new magistrates peer support network

Following its successful launch of the ‘MA New Magistrates Peer Support Network’ in January, further meetings took place in February and March. This network has been established in response to new Magistrates wanting a safe forum to stay connected and to share experience and knowledge.

There were key areas of interest to new magistrates discussed including:

  • Mentored sittings
  • Recording progress for appraisal
  • Claiming expenses
  • Use of technology


The next monthly network meeting is on 21 April.

Please contact MA branch representatives Ravy Gabrria-Nivas or Alex Ćosić for further information. 

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 28 April.

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.

Wiltshire MA: AGM

The Wiltshire branch will be holding its AGM on 6 April. The meeting will be held via the MA’s Zoom account starting at 6.30pm. Elections for branch officers will be held and nominations for the following posts are being accepted; Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.

Please check the email account you registered with the MA for Zoom connection details.

For more information, please contact Tony Cockery.

Black Country MA: learn about West Midlands Police Prosecutions team

Black Country MA are lining up a series of virtual events with various organisations and hope you will be able to join them for some interesting sessions.

12 April at 18:30 – West Midlands Police, Prosecutions team for Criminal Justice Services

12 May at 18:30 – Black Country Community Rehabilitation Companies Reducing Reoffending Partnership and Probation

19 June at 10:30 – Cranstoun and West Midlands Police – drug arrest referral service, followed by the AGM.

All will be delivered via teams and Black Country MA are setting more up. Invites will be sent to your email address before the event.

If you are concerned you’ve not received it and want to attend, please email Gemma Staite.

Cheshire MA: AGM and members’ meeting

Cheshire MA members are invited to come together virtually for its upcoming AGM and members’ meeting. The meeting will take place over Zoom on 6 November.

All Cheshire and Merseyside Magistrates will be invited to link in. There will be an interesting mix of speakers including presentations on County Lines Drug Dealing and Domestic Violence. 

For more information, please contact Alan Eyres.

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 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

Coming up in the April-May 2021 issue of MAGISTRATE

The April-May issue of MAGISTRATE will be landing on doorsteps from 1 April.

At this challenging time for the courts the Ministry of Justice has published its review into magistrates’ expenses. Many members have been in touch about this and it is discussed by MA national chair, Bev Higgs, in What’s on my mind (page 24), along with updates from the MA deputy chairs, Mark Beattie and Alison Spurgeon-Dickson.

Elsewhere in this edition, former chair Rachel Lipscomb has written on the need to seize this opportunity to recruit a new generation of magistrates that better reflects the communities we serve. While her views on the retirement age are not in step with the MA’s position, nobody could disagree with the need to recruit more young and diverse magistrates. There is also an excellent article by Emma Conduct on preventing women from reoffending and David Goodman is highly readable, as always, on the history of magistrates’ training.

This issue’s cut-out-and-keep guide, on the mutual recognition of driving bans in the UK and Republic of Ireland, is in direct response to an issue raised at a recent meeting of the MA Council. The next meeting of Council will take place on 12 May and if there is an issue that you would like to have discussed at this meeting please contact your local Council representative. It is essential that we hear about the issues that matter most to our members at these meetings. The better informed we are, the better the work we can do on your behalf.

Other features include:

  • The golden thread Legal editor, Stephen Leake, considers the longstanding, complex and elusive concept of ‘reasonable doubt’
  • Why are pregnant women in prison? Some important questions about expectant mothers in prison
  • Why enforcement agents are essential to local services An update on the current best practice for enforcement agents (previously known as bailiffs)
  • The Secret Magistrate Our JP insider asks: Where have all the magistrates gone?
  • Independent review of children’s social care A report on the care review announced by the government in January
  • Scrutinising Out of Court Disposals The work of the Out of Court Disposal Scrutiny Panel for the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Domestic abuse and Covid-19 A retired family magistrate reflects on his experiences of domestic abuse, both as a magistrate and as a volunteer for a charity
  • Meeting magistrates Pilot, Adam Gungah’s, decision-making skills are put to the test as much in the sky as in court!
  • Member Q&A Motorcycle enthusiast, Samantha Ogden, draws on her own family experiences to inform the decisions she makes to protect vulnerable children
  • Policy watch: In depth A report on the government’s recently published White Paper: Reforming the Mental Health Act
  • Legal update A look at the new sentencing guidelines for drugs/psychoactive substances
  • Family law update How to identify coercive and controlling behaviour in the family court
  • Sentencing steps Sentencing exercise on the new drugs guideline: psychoactive substances
  • Letters Views from members
  • JP stories Members’ court anecdotes
  • 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!

500 Club - March WINNERS

1st Prize – Douglas Parish (Black Country)
2nd Prize – Peter Benmax (Central & North London)
3rd Prize –  Roger Willson (South & South East London)


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