To deliver on the organisation’s influencing objectives, Magistrates’ Association (MA) spokespeople regularly talk to the media. Since our last round-up in March, we have secured widespread coverage on topics including, among others, the pausing of magistrates’ extended sentencing powers, the reported racist remarks of a former magistrate, the drive to recruit more magistrates and the potential adverse impact of postal delays on our justice system.
In March, we issued a statement on the government’s decision to temporarily pause magistrates’ extended sentencing powers. We are pleased that our disappointment and warning that crown court backlogs will increase as a result were reported in outlets including the Evening Standard, the Guardian and the Press Association.
In April, our National Chair, Mark Beattie JP, wrote a related opinion piece for the Law Society Gazette. In this, he urged the Ministry of Justice to boost investment in our troubled criminal justice system instead of slowing down justice for victims, defendants and witnesses “without rhyme or reason”.
Later that month, we were appalled to learn of the reported racist remarks of a former magistrate. So, we issued a statement, which was picked up by outlets ranging from ITV to Nation Cymru, clarifying that there is no place for racism in the magistracy.
In May, our Chief Executive, Tom Franklin, talked to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (from 1:35:06) and BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine (from 1:10:19) about the ongoing postal delays. He explained that the universal postal service is a vital chain in the administration of justice in England and Wales and any reduction in its quality will add to the pressures in the justice system.
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, including by providing case studies of our members. From My London to Bristol Live, 27 local media outlets shared our thoughts on this ongoing campaign and/or featured our members.