Skip Main Navigation
Share this page
6 December 2023
Practicalities of being a magistrate Wider justice system

A round-up of our recent media coverage.

A microphone

To deliver on the organisation’s influencing objectives, Magistrates’ Association (MA) spokespeople regularly talk to the media. Since our last round-up in September, we have secured over 80 pieces of coverage on topics including, among others: open justice, trial adjournments, prison capacity and sentencing, volunteer recognition, remand decision-making, the legal adviser shortage, and the drive to recruit more magistrates.

In late September, the Times featured our response to the government consultation on open justice, where we urged the government to make open justice a guiding principle in all decisions about reform and improvement, to plug the gaps in publicly available data, and to invest in strengthening the public’s understanding of what happens in courts.

In the same month, the Independent quoted our Chief Executive, Tom Franklin, on trial adjournments, and he talked to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme about prison capacity and sentencing.

In the following month, Tom also talked to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, this time specifically about community sentences. We also published a media statement setting out our position on measures announced by the Lord Chancellor to deal with the capacity problems in prisons. Our statement supported measures to reduce the use of short-term sentences but said that the success of these measures highly depends on the availability of suitable community sentence alternatives and the proper resourcing of the probation service.

We are pleased to see that our views on prison capacity and sentencing were widely covered by the media, including the Evening Standard, the Guardian, the Independent, Inside Time, the Law Society Gazette and the Times. The Guardian and the Times have featured us a few times.

In October, our landmark report on the costs of volunteering as a magistrate was mentioned in several outlets in Wales, including the North Wales Chronicle and the North West Pioneer. In both articles, we emphasised our work for better recognition of magistrates’ invaluable contribution to the justice system.

Media engagement is a key tool that we use to promote the magistracy and to correct misunderstandings about what magistrates do. So, when JUSTICE published a report that is critical of the quality of remand decision-making in November, we shared our views with the Guardian, the Independent and the Law Society Gazette, recognising the troubling findings of this report and the work that needs to be done.

Also in November, our statement on the Sentencing Council’s consultation on the revised Imposition of community and custodial sentences guideline, was reported in outlets including BBC News and the Daily Telegraph.

Later that month, the Guardian quoted our National Chair, Mark Beattie JP, on the legal adviser shortage and its impact on court capacity.

As we believe that more magistrates are needed to help deliver speedier justice for all, throughout the last quarter we continued to help promote the Ministry of Justice’s ongoing recruitment drive. From BBC London to the Nottingham Post, many local media outlets shared our thoughts on this ongoing campaign and/or featured our members.