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Influencing for you

We are the only collective and independent voice of the magistracy. We advocate on behalf of our members and inform others about the vital role of the magistracy.

What we do

As the only collective and independent voice of the magistracy, we advocate on behalf of our members and inform others about the vital role of the magistracy.

We speak directly to the senior judiciary, government, other national bodies, and media to promote the magistracy and shape the policy agenda.

 

How we do it

We achieve our influencing aims by lobbying relevant agencies, representing the magistracy on decision-making groups and committees, conducting research and publishing advocacy reports, and responding to consultations and calls for evidence. As a member-led charity, all this work is shaped our five policy committees.

As well as meeting regularly with HM Courts & Tribunals Service, the Judicial Office, the Magistrates Leadership Executive and the Ministry of Justice to discuss the issues our members tell us matter most to them, we also share our findings and recommendations with and brief ministers, Lords, and Members of Parliament.

At a local and regional level, volunteers from our branches are involved in influencing on a myriad of policy issues, from recruitment and training to rotas and allocations.

Media engagement is also a key tool in our influencing toolbox. We generate widespread, positive media coverage about the MA and the magistracy, and are a go-to resource for journalists and broadcasters who cover related matters.

Our efforts to raise public awareness about the amazing contribution magistrates make to their communities is perhaps best demonstrated via our Magistrates in the Community initiative. This sees teams of MA members deliver presentations to schools, colleges and community groups across England and Wales on a range of topics.

How you can get involved

All our policy work is developed in consultation with our members to ensure that it reflects their priorities, concerns and on-the-ground experience. We’d love for you to help shape our ongoing and future campaigns. If you’re already a member, you might like to consider:

Timeline of wins

Over the years, we’ve had many successes that have helped ensure better administration of justice. Here are a few highlights.
1940

Training for magistrates

We obtained government provided training for all magistrates.

1969

Sentencing guidelines

We commenced our ongoing efforts to shape sentencing guidelines so that they work for defendants, sentencers and victims.

1970s

The Magistrates’ Court Act 1980

We influenced the development of this act, which consolidated the procedures applicable in magistrates’ courts.

2014

Family court decision-making

We made recommendations to the President of the Family Division that resulted in magistrates being included in all aspects of decision-making in the family court.

2015

The criminal court charge

We successfully campaigning for the discontinuation of this deeply unpopular charge.

2015

Youth court offences

We obtained a vital amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 to ensure that grave crimes can be tried in the youth court.

2022

Magistrates’ recruitment

We influenced government plans to recruit 4,000 new magistrates, to support increased diversity on the bench.

2022

Magistrates’ sentencing powers

We successfully lobbied for a doubling of magistrates’ sentencing powers, to help reduce court backlogs. These have been temporarily suspended, but we’re pressing for their timely restoration.

2022

Magistrates’ retirement age

We secured an increase in the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75, to help retain some of our most experienced magistrates on the bench.

2023

Out of court disposals

We informed the police transformation strategy and Code of Practice on the use of adult OOCDs and prompted a review of the use of OOCDs for children by the Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board.

2023

Accessibility in magistrates’ courts

We successfully lobbied the government to improve the accessibility of and better maintain court buildings. The Ministry of Justice has committed £220 million and accessibility will be prioritised.

Related publications

To support our advocacy work, we regularly publish reports, briefing notes, consultation responses and position statements. Here are our latest.
  • Diversity, disparity and inclusion
  • Practicalities of being a magistrate

Inaccessible courts: a barrier to justice

We reveal that three quarters of magistrates courts are insufficiently accessible. We identify the barriers this creates for the public and magistrates and make six recommendations to urgently address the systemic issues in the court estate.
  • Adult court matters
  • Victims

Victims and Prisoners Bill: committee stage

We call for a central victims fund to reduce the re-traumatisation of victims and enure more effcient compensation.
  • Family court matters

Pilot practice direction for domestic abuse protection orders

Our response to suggested reforms to domestic violence prevention orders (DAPO) calls for recognition that DAPO proceedings could be exploited by abusers, for care to be taken around information sharing and confidence in perpetuator programmes.
  • Adult court matters

Utility warrants for pre-payment meters

We address magistrates' role in applications for installation of pre-payment meters and how vulnerability is considered. We stress that reform of this system should be pursued in Parliament.