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31 March 2024
Adult court matters Wider justice system Youth court matters

A round-up of our recent media coverage

To help achieve our influencing objectives and as part of our advocacy work on behalf of our members, the Magistrates’ Association provides comments to journalists on relevant issues and our spokespeople regularly talk to the media. Since our last round-up in December, we have secured an incredible 586 pieces of coverage on topics including neurodiversity and the youth court, the magistrates’ recruitment drive, extending magistrates’ sentencing range, the government’s Spring Budget, Common Platform, lawyers’ perceptions of magistrates, the Single Justice Procedure, and artificial intelligence and mitigation.

In January, the Law Society Gazette quoted one of our deputy national chairs, David Ford, on neurodiversity and the youth court.

In the same month, our national chair, Mark Beattie, talked to Times Radio’s Sunday Morning programme about the ongoing magistrates’ recruitment drive, why more magistrates are needed and who can become a magistrate.

In February, our other deputy national chair, Jacqui MacDonald-Davis, talked to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about why we are calling for the restoration of magistrates’ extended sentencing range and how it can help deliver speedier justice for all.

In March, our response to the government’s Spring Budget was quoted in several outlets, including the Evening Standard, the Law Society Gazette and the Times. Our statement welcomed the extra money announced, but said that without properly investing in justice, a bad situation is going to get worse.

In the same month, the Times quoted our chief executive, Tom Franklin, on the latest decision to pause future development of Common Platform – the digital case management system used in the courts.

Media engagement is a key tool that we use to promote the magistracy and to correct misunderstandings about what magistrates do. So, when the Times published an article based on a survey of 15 lawyers highlighting that they have a negative perception of magistrates in March, we made sure our robust response was included in the piece.

The Single Justice Procedure has come under intense media scrutiny recently, and in March we published our new position statement with 12 recommendations to improve its operation, transparency and fairness. We are very pleased to see that it was widely covered by the media, including City AM, Politico, SKY News, the Daily Telegraph, the Evening Standard, the Financial Times, the Independent, the Law Society Gazette, the Press Association and the Times. To share our position even more widely, our chief executive Tom Franklin talked to Tom Swarbrick on LBC and our national chair Mark Beattie talked to John Pienaar on Times Radio. We also secured three front page features by the Daily Telegraph and hundreds of pieces of local media coverage, such as in the Oxford Mail and the South Wales Guardian.

Also in March, the Evening Standard quoted us on concerns that some defendants may use artificial intelligence while offering mitigation.