Taking place from 20 to 24 June this year, Justice Week aims to improve access justice for all by increasing public understanding of and support for the rule of law and the justice system. Here, we highlight a few of the activities our members have recently undertaken to educate the public about the magistracy and wider judiciary as part of our innovative outreach activity, Magistrates in the Community.
For the last four years, the Bar Council, the Law Society and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) have collaborated to run Justice Week—a week-long drive to improve access to justice for all by increasing public understanding of and support for the rule of law and the justice system and by securing commitments and/or taking action to strengthen justice.
This year, Justice Week is taking place from 20 to 24 June. To mark the occasion, we have been reflecting on some of the ways we have contributed to educating the public about and growing confidence in the justice system in England and Wales via our innovative outreach initiative Magistrates in the Community.
This sees teams of Magistrates’ Association (MA) members deliver insightful and though-provoking presentations to schools, colleges, offices, and community groups on topics ranging from cybercrime to how guilt and innocence are decided. Through these, and other outreach activities, we endeavour to demystify the legal system, help communities better understand the role magistrates play within the judiciary, and interest the public in the work of their local courts.
Here are just a few highlights from this year:
- In January, the deputy chair of our young magistrates’ network, Katherine Sirrell JP, talked to the Kids Law podcast— which aims to educate, inform, and inspire children about legal issues affecting them—about what magistrates do. Catch up here.
- In February, the chair of our young magistrates’ network, Luke Rigg JP, appeared on Reasons to be Cheerful podcast to discuss the invaluable role that magistrates play in our justice system and the government’s latest recruitment drive. Listen here.
- In March, the deputy chair of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network, Dawn Gibbons JP, facilitated a workshop on ‘How to become a magistrate’ at Cultivating Black Women for Social Change. As well as raising attendees’ awareness of what magistrates do, Dawn also helped promote the government’s commitment to increasing diversity on the bench. Find out more in Dawn’s blog.
- In April, our Black, Asian and minority ethnic network marked Steven Lawrence Day by giving a Home Office-hosted talk to civil servants about how magistrates help create positive change in society. Read network chair, Jacqui MacDonald-Davis JP’s reflections from the day.
- In May, Dawn Gibbons JP participated in a Schools’ Question Time event co-convened by the Judicial Office and Young Citizens that saw judges, magistrates and legal representatives come together to educate students about the justice system in England and Wales and, hopefully, inspire the future generation of volunteers. Learn more in Dawn’s blog.
- In June, our Great Manchester branch co-launched an innovative virtual reality programme with Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit that seeks to engage pupils on the impacts of knife crime. Learn more about the project’s anticipated benefits in this short video featuring our branch chair Paul Brearley.
If you are a magistrate who is keen to get involved in these types of activities for the MA or are a group who would like further information about organising a Magistrates in the Community visit, please email us.