The TRUNK September 2018

Where branches come together

Welcome to the TRUNK, our monthly roundup of branch news. We want our branches to feel connected to each other and hope that this publication will give them a platform to share good practice and celebrate their successes, as well as announce upcoming events and activities.​

 'Our branches regularly go above and beyond, organising events, reaching out to the community and recruiting new members. As Chair, I'm delighted to be able to showcase their tireless efforts. Please read and be inspired!' John Bache, National Chair

Surrey MA: half yearly catchup

Surrey MA’s two main activities in the first half of 2018 were the Surrey Heats of the 2018 Mock Trial competition in March and their AGM in May.

Mock Trial competition

Surrey Mock Trial Competition heats

Over 200 people attended this year’s Mock Trial competition which, for the second year running, took place at Guildford Crown Court – an excellent and inspiring location. Once again, everyone present enjoyed it very much and the standard of the competition between the six schools was very high.

Attendees included the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, the High Sheriff of Surrey, the Lord Mayor of Guildford, and almost 30 magistrates who had volunteered to help with the running of the trials and supporting activities.

The supporting activities included:

  • A Q&A panel manned by the Surrey Bench Chair, a High Court Judge, the Chief Superintendent of Police and a local solicitor;
  • Stalls featuring the High Sheriff’s Youth Awards, the Probation Service, CrimeStoppers and Police Cadets;
  • A display by police firearms officers; and
  • Visits to the cells and meeting the police dogs – these were very popular!!

Every year, the branch accommodates these extra activities by holding the trials over three rounds, allowing the school teams not competing in one round to rotate through the various supporting activities.

This year’s winner of the High Sheriff’s trophy for Surrey schools was Woking High. The overall Surrey Heat winner was Glenthorne High.


The 2018 Surrey MA AGM took place at Guildford Guildhall on the 10 May. 49 people attended and enjoyed a pre-meeting reception of drinks and canapes beforehand.

The President, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, welcomed all guests, including the High Sheriff, the Lord Mayor of Guildford and Halita Obineche, Director of Membership for the MA. HHJ Fraser, the Vice President, ran attendees through the main business of the evening and the event was rounded off by a very enjoyable talk from local solicitor, David Castle of Castle Partnerships, who regaled the branch with entertaining stories about his experiences over many years in court.

For further information, please contact Mike Slee

Opening night for the new look Tower Bridge Magistrates Court

Dixon Hotel interior‘I am a recently retired Met Police Detective, now reemployed in a civilian capacity. I was once a frequent user of Tower Bridge Magistrates Court, Tooley Street, and retain great affection for - and interest in - the site. Subsequent to its closure in June 2013, the courthouse has been redeveloped as a 193 Bedroom 4-Star hotel, restaurant and bar. Many of the original features are being retained, and it will now be possible to purchase a drink in the old No 1 Court! 

‘I have spoken with the developers for the Dixon Hotel (the courthouse’s new name) and the developers are keen to hold an opening night celebration in November, with a gala dinner solely hosting former users of the old courthouse. The format is likely to be drinks, a three course dinner and some time to reflect and exchange memories. A photograph of all attendees will be taken in the entrance hall (the old Court foyer), framed and displayed in the new hotel. All attendees will receive a free copy.

‘Interest is being sought from police officers, court staff, solicitors and magistrates who served there. I have expressions of interest from over 30 retired officers, going back several decades, who are pleased to attend. We would all be delighted if some of the great characters who served the court as magistrates were able to come along.’

Andy Clark, Civilian Investigator, Child Abuse Investigation Team, Metropolitan Police Service

If you are interested in attending or would like to learn more about this event, please contact Andy Clark indicating your position whilst at the Court, with dates of service.

Dorset MA AGM

Martyn Underhill, Dorset PCCDorset MA held its Annual General Meeting at Bryanston School, Blandford Forum on 28 August. Approximately one third of the Bench was present, as were Dorset’s Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Police and Crime Commissioner (pictured), and Chief Constable. 

The AGM was followed by a presentation and Q&A session with John Bache, the MA National Chair. He explained that despite the media sensationalising his recent comments into a wish to recruit magistrates from Her Majesty’s Prisons, he was simply confirming that the magistracy should reflect our diverse communities, and that a speeding offence from a few years ago shouldn’t dissuade someone from applying to be a magistrate.

He also confirmed that, in these austere times, the magistracy should not be afraid of change. In any battle between justice and efficiency the Magistrates Association will ensure that justice always holds the trump card.

Next came an informative presentation from Dorset Police about speeding. This included information about the types of speed and traffic light cameras, the location of fixed positions, and a discussion about the civilian ‘speedwatch’ scheme.

There followed a legal update and presentation about ‘giving reasons’, in both adult and family courts. Attendees were given a very useful and informative preview of the new Sentencing Guidelines on Harassment and Breach of Community Order coming into effect on 1 October.

A ‘show of hands’ poll was taken at the end of the AGM on changing the compulsory retirement age for magistrates from 70 to 75 years. Approximately 75% were in favour of raising the retirement age to 75 , but most of these agreed that a rigorous appraisal system for all magistrates was paramount if this were to be implemented. 

For more information on this event, please contact Louise Dutton

Berkshire MA: bringing tech to retiring rooms

Berkshire notice boardBerkshire MA has launched an exciting way of sharing information in retiring rooms.

The new electronic information screen contains topical information for magistrates, updated regularly on a secure digital card. Full-colour and animated, it communicates news in an engaging and innovative way. The screen is timed to come alive when magistrates arrive for court and during the lunch break. At other times, it shuts down to save electricity, making it a very green alternative to paper bulletins.

This new approach has been extremely well received.

For more information about the screen, please contact Allan Brownridge

Mid and South Glamorgan MA AGM

Mid and South Glamorgan AGMOn 5 September, Mid and South Glamorgan MA held their AGM in the lovely surroundings of Aberdare Hall in Cardiff. The executive committee were delighted to welcome two special guests who were no strangers to courts or crime. 

Emma Arbuthnot, Chief Magistrate, addressed the audience on her role and some of the interesting activities that fill her day. She outlined serious and amusing incidents that had recently taken place.

Then our very own John Bache, National Chair of the MA, gave a brief talk about what is happening nationally and encouraged branch members to carry on supporting each other and working to increase membership. 

It was also a sad day as valued and long-serving members retired for a variety of reasons. For over 15 years, Honorary Secretary Steve Millar, an Associate Member, formed a backbone of branch support. With his legal qualifications and extensive MA knowledge, Steve always pointed the branch in the right direction with his soft Geordie accent. The expression ‘hard act to follow’ is true in Steve’s case and the branch wished him all the very best for the future. He was presented with some gift vouchers by the present Chair, Mrs Olive Francis.

Olive is also coming to the end of her magisterial career, having been a very active member at national and branch level for many years. She finishes her Chair role at the branch in December and will be succeeded by current vice-chair, John Viney. Mrs Kim Davies was elected to serve as vice-Chair for the next term.

For more information, please contact John Viney

Central and North London MA catch up

John Bache and Emma ArbuthnotThe Central and North London MA executive committee have been busy organising a number of events since their AGM in the House of Lords.

The committee have organised a major event on 26 November, where Emma Arbuthnot, Chief Magistrate for England and Wales (pictured with John Bache), will be guest speaker. Over 100 MA members from Central and North London will be in attendance. The committee has extended invitations to the local district judges, crown court judges and Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee. Jon Collins, Chief Executive of the MA, will also be in attendance - and will be able to answer any questions which relate to the MA.

The committee is making ample use of the new MA membership packs, ensuring that there are copies in the retiring room and on the noticeboard. The noticeboard itself has recently undergone a makeover. It now features photos of each member of the committee, and a summary of each role, to help members or prospective members understand who to speak to about specific issues.

The committee is hoping to continue to organise high profile speaker events as a way of providing a tangible local offer to members. The previous events have been great opportunities for members to network and to hear from interesting speakers.

Aside from events, the committee has been keen to rekindle its role in policy development at a local, regional and national level. This is in its initial stages, but the hope is that the committee can build a strong group of magistrates who are able to represent Central and North London MA members' views during key policy changes.

For more information, please contact Luke Rigg

Fifty States of Mind

John Viney and his wife in the US“What is the best state you have been to?”

'That question has been asked of me many many times…especially since I recently visited my 50th US State, Alaska. As well as enjoying the history and beauty of the vast country, I have also visited many prisons, including Lemon Creek Correctional Facility in Alaska. So, even on vacation, I do not get far from a justice system!

'I have an interest in American prisons, and have been lucky enough to get into – and, thankfully, out of - about 15 of them. My first was Folsom, and a meeting with the warden got me into San Quentin and then Pelican Bay in California. In one prison I had to wear a stab vest and sign a disclaimer stating that if taken captive, I would not be negotiated for. I was given a unique souvenir, a car number plate with my name on it and a 150 year old cell key, the ‘keys of San Quentin’.

'In New York State, I went to the 200 year old Auburn Prison, the oldest in the USA. They took prisoners from there and sailed them down the Hudson to build Sing Sing, another interesting visit. While passing the old execution building, my guide called it ‘the dance hall’. I thought this was a crude reference to the manner in which the body jerks when being electrocuted, but no, it has a much more romantic origin. Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, found guilty of spying for the Russians in 1953, were allowed a final dance together before execution.

John Viney in the US'Huntsville, Texas, is the oldest prison in the South. Native American chiefs, outlaws and Civil War prisoners were housed there. They still execute prisoners and I had a full day tour of that establishment, including the death row facilities.

'I managed to visit correctional facilities in Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and on the beautiful island of Hawaii. The town of Florence, Colorado has a whopping 11 prisons surrounding it, and I went to one last year which was termed a Supermax prison.

'There are a couple more on my ‘to do’ list...but it is getting harder to convince my wife that I need to because I am a magistrate!' John Viney JP

To find out more about his amazing adventures, please contact John Viney

500 Club - September WINNERS

500 Club champagne1st Prize: £150 -  Jacqueline Brannagan (Northumbria)
2nd Prize: £100 - Cheryl Vander (Kent)
3rd Prize: £75 - John Whittacker (Coventry & Warwickshire)




Buckinghamshire MA: upcoming conference on changing hehaviours 

Buckinghamshire MA will be holding their annual conference on 10 November, from 10am to 1pm, at the Grange School, Wendover Way, Aylesbury HP21 7NH (following on from their AGM, which starts 9.30am).

This year, the branch will be looking at what effects change in offending behaviour, and also what can help victims, and others impacted by crime, to overcome and move forwards with their lives.

They shall delve into restorative justice and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), topping this off with a splash of brain dominance and cognitive preferences.

If that isn’t intriguing enough to encourage you to come along, they will once again be providing lots of their famous home-made refreshments for which many return year after year!

This event is open to members from all branches. To book a place please email Trevor Dobson.

Middlesex MA AGM

Middlesex MA will be holding their annual AGM and elections at Court 8, Willesden Magistrates Court, 448 High Road, London, NW10 2DZ on Thursday 1 November 2018.

The meeting will run from 5.30-6.30pm, and Jon Collins, MA Chief Executive, will be attending as guest speaker.

If you wish to attend, please contact Marion Stern

Nottinghamshire MA and Derbyshire MA: upcoming conference on breaking the offending cycle

Nottinghamshire MA and Derbyshire MA are holding a mini conference on 20 October at Nottingham Justice Centre from 9am to 1pm. The event will focus on how to break the constant cycle of prison sentences and re-offending leading to more prison sentences.

Speakers will include a senior manager from the probation service and charities who deal with offenders on a regular basis. More details will be sent out via your ejudiciary email and the Bench newsletter.

If you wish to attend, please email Vicki Loughton as places are limited

Berkshire MA AGM

Berkshire MA AGM will take place on 20 November at 6:30pm at Sindlesham Court, Mole Road, Sindlesham, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG41 5EA. The AGM business will be followed by a guest speaker from the Elizabeth Fry charity, who will be sharing information about helping women offenders - particularly those most recently released on licence - who have a range of complex needs . The talk will be followed by an optional (although delicious) dinner.

To book a place and dinner if required, contact Janet King

Northumbria MA talks

All magistrates (whether or not they are MA members) and interested others are invited by Northumbria MA to the following talks:

24 October 6-8pm

The Work of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB)
John Davidson, Chair, IMB Durham

Newcastle Arts Centre, 67 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SG

A buffet supper and hot and cold drinks will be served at 6pm

13 December 7-9pm

Topic to be confirmed

Norman Kirtland, Retired Police Forensic Artist

The Grey Horse, Front St, East Boldon NE36 0SJ

Please let Vivien Hollyoak know if you intend to attend 

Gwent MA: retired magistrates' group turns 40

Gwent retired magistrates’ group turns 40 this year. They will be celebrating this significant landmark with a lunch on 18 October at the Glen-yr-Afon Hotel, Usk.

Special guest speaker will be Newport solicitor, Roger James, a familiar figure in Gwent courtrooms. Lunches have been organised by retired magistrates' clerk, Pat Rodway, who edits and distributes a twice yearly newsletter to more than 100 members.

The group, which was formed by the late Mary Morgan JP and the late Ross Goff JP, hold lunches twice a year, supported by many retired justices.

For more details, please contact Pat Rodway

Staffordshire MA: custody suite visits

Staffordshire MA's annual visits to the Northern Area and Watling House custody suites have begun with their usual excellent feedback.

If you’d like to visit Watling House at 7pm on the 3 October, or 10am on 10 October please e-mail Jonathan Dannatt

If you'd like to make a submission to the October issue of the TRUNK, please contact us here