Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

BUY TWO MET POLICE AND GET TWO FREE (OFFER ONLY VALID IN HAMPSTEAD)

I recollect many years ago taking a tourist trip in a minibus around Beverly Hills.  The houses of the movie stars were, to use my  teenage son`s description; awesome.  But my J.P.`s eye alighted as much on the number of "ordinary" houses where a signboard was centrally placed with the words "ARMED RESPONSE PATROLS".  My innocent mind metaphorically sighed inwardly at what I perceived was the lowly state American law enforcement must have reached in inverse proportion to the paranoia of rich Californians. Today I read about the rich residents of Hampstead in London contemplating renting their very own dedicated police officers to do what the Metropolitan Police apparently fails to do: namely patrol to a degree which gives confidence to  the local population  that life and property are to some degree protected from a breach of the peace which is, after all, the prime purpose of any police  force.  

Politically and philosophically I am off the Corbynista spectrum but there is just so much cutting of a nation`s total police, security and justice system budget that can be made without everything imploding.  The reality is that until the unsupportable concept of a "free" NHS providing the best health care for an ever increasing and ageing  population is confronted head on with the fact that "free" at the point of use means inevitably a rationing of said healthcare the position will be the same as in the former Soviet Union where bread was so cheap it was affordable by all but it was rationed to reduce demand. The residents of  Frognal and Fitzjohns and Hampstead Town wards are discovering right now that there is a point where a limit has been reached. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE HARD LEFT

Imagine you`re sitting in a cafe/bistro in an inner city suburb one evening and a mob of several hundred mainly  teenagers both black and white waving flaming torches marches down the street threatening to break the cafe`s windows where you`re sitting enjoying a dinner out.  Their target is the very place you`ve chosen to spend some of your hard earned money. You would expect the police to arrive swiftly  in overwhelming numbers to protect life and property.  The following day you would also expect to read that dozens of protesters had been arrested on charges ranging from criminal damage to affray.  If the above scenario had taken place in an "improving " area of East London your expectations would have failed to be realised.  Virtually every inner city area of London has either been gentrified or is on the horizon so to be. From Notting Hill in the 60s where signs on slum properties for rent read, "NO DOGS, NO IRISH, NO BLACKS" to Shorerditch today via Crouch End in the north to Shepherds Bush in the west not forgetting Elephant and Battersea in the south, shopping parades have changed from the provision of services for poorer working and non working  families to those catering for the more exotic tastes of an aspiring middle class eschewing the attractions of a three bed semi in MetroLand in preference for a two bedroom converted flat at a cost of half a million pounds. And in Shoreditch last Saturday after an event which would have been to say the least decidedly unpleasant for those in the cafe or nearby only one person so far  has been arrested by those brave men in Met Police blue and that is on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

The protesters of a hard left variety also managed to encapsulate the anti semitism which has become de rigueur of late amongst the comrades in their  Facebook page advertising the event, " Our communities are being ripped apart - by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers,"  where it is considered that insults to "Israelis" in this context of supposed  gentrification can usefully take the place of "Jews" without  a breach of legislation on race relations. 

There is definitely something still very rotten in the state of the Met. but there is something decidedly  evil in the Left`s resurrection of the oldest virus. 
 

Monday, 28 September 2015

MAGISTRATES` THOUGHTS ON UNREPRESENTED DEFENDANTS



It is generally accepted that magistrates` courts came into being in 1285, during the reign of Edward I, when ‘good and lawful men’ were commissioned to keep the King’s peace. The title Justice of the Peace (J.P.) first appeared in 1361, in the reign of Edward III. As the office was unpaid only those with independent wealth could be appointed.  Until the turn of this century applicants had to declare their political affiliation before their applications would be considered. Prior to 2003 there was a great deal of truly local control of individual magistrates` courts.

With major changes in society since 1997; reduction in crime, increase in out of court disposals, mass immigration, increases in legislation and governments` increasing desire to exercise control,  units of governance increased in size eg many smaller London boroughs were abolished and absorbed into larger entities with populations the size of cities such as Bristol.  Courts were no exception to this big is best philosophy.   With the formation of Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunals Service in 2011 central government has overall control of the whole courts` process. 

The last fifteen years have seen a gradual erosion of the powers of magistrates` benches over their members and behind the scenes court processes.  Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunal Service has arguably created powers for itself not envisaged by those who set these changes in motion.  Whilst the number of J.P.s has fallen by almost a third over this period of falling numbers of cases coming to court  the same period has seen the number of full time District Judges sitting alone  rising from below 100 to 139 assisted by 154 part time Deputy District Judges.  The numbers of District Judges (and D.D.J.s)  have increased as a direct result of government policies. It is reasonable to ask oneself why.  It cannot be purely on cost although if their having a qualified legal clerk for assistance were abolished the cost difference would be a close run thing allowing for J.P.s expenses.   It cannot be that increasing court time is required.  The last decade has seen the number of lay magistrates reduced from c30,000 to c 23,000. The only logical conclusion is that by having the lower courts under the control of salaried civil servants they become more amenable to central control.  Those more expert than I in the manipulation of statistics have suggested that converting the Deputies to full time D.J.s would enable a government to remove the lay Justice of the Peace from the criminal court altogether replacing him/her with a single arbiter of law, fact finding and sentencing  thus allowing  full -  on control of the total courts process by civil servants beholden to government for their stipend.   It is virtually beyond argument that this is indeed what happened after the riots of 2011.  I personally experienced pressure from senior officials to send where lawful a  related matter at that time to crown court as District Judges were instructed to do notwithstanding whether or not it had passed the required seriousness test.  My colleagues and I at the time declined such pressure. 

There is no doubt that in their quest to pursue the concept of restorative justice,  the proliferation of out of court disposals, the pressure to reduce custodial sentencing and the virtual balancing of costs between J.P.s and an arguably  more efficient and cost effective professional judiciary there are politicians all too willing to heed the voices of pressure groups to remove the lay magistracy from the courtrooms of England and Wales.   Recent legislative changes, by the coalition and the current government, have seen the resignation of perhaps thirty J.P.s........statistics are impossible to find.  Imposition of taxes unrelated to income termed “victim surcharge” on convicted offenders in addition to costs, fines, community requirements and custodial sentences were greeted with dismay by most of my ex colleagues.  Recently announced additional such taxation known as the Criminal Court Charge will almost certainly accelerate the philosophical distance between magistrates and government leading  inevitably to more resignations especially from the most senior cohort of J.P.s.

In the light of the aforementioned history current pressures on the magistracy are beginning to take a new form; namely is it time for its abolition?  Whilst there are few who would raise their head above the parapet to put their case the alleged poor quality of training received by magistrates is being used as a convenient stick with which to beat them.  The Howard League for Penal Reform and Transform Justice are just two of the pressure groups seeking major changes to the training programmes currently offered to J.P.s.  However in any discussion on magistrates` own opinions of  their activities and competence within the courts in which they sit there is a dearth of knowledge.  The Magistrates Association is held in such low esteem that its efforts to canvass opinion can be virtually discounted.  For that reason I decided to canvass opinions held by members of my former bench myself on the vexed and troubling subject of unrepresented defendants whose presence in court has been brought into the spotlight by the reducing availability of legal aid.    For my sample I chose colleagues I knew to be forthright and logical in their thinking and with at least five years experience.  Their number did not exceed ten.  This information gathering exercise is not meant to be a statistical analysis of the thought processes of some J.P.s; it is merely the gathering together and assembly of opinion during friendly conversation with former colleagues. The following is an account of their views. 

Considering unrepresented defendants it was apparent that care must be taken to distinguish between two very different stages of the justice system; namely first appearances at magistrates` court and at trial for a summary or either way offence.  There did not seem to be more such appearances at first listings than prior to the activation of the new process of anticipated guilty or not guilty pleas although there was some dissent amongst interviewees.  Those unrepresented were generally in such a position through lack of means, unawareness of seriousness and/or ignorance of proceedings.  Those factors were no different now than they had always been. The turmoil over legal aid contracts had not so far had any detrimental effect on the availability of representation at remand courts. Defendants, it was considered, still enjoyed the benefit of legal advice from a duty solicitor if they took advantage of that facility.  However what came through loud and clear was the awareness that defendants might  feel pressurised to plead guilty at this early stage.  Most  interviewees were of the opinion that before any sitting, written information should be handed to each defendant by the usher explaining  procedures and in particular the consequences of entering an anticipated plea whatever its nature.   One dissenter suggested that those offering an early guilty anticipated plea could be formally processed at the police station by video link from the court.   All were concerned by the recently imposed Courts Charge.  The financial burden by its imposition without means testing on those found guilty after trial gave rise to a fear  that additional equivocal guilty pleas might be offered and it was incumbent upon  bench chairmen to be prepared to question the validity of any such plea where that might arise.  For either way offences and defendants eschewing legal assistance it was vital that bench chairmen be able to assist legal advisors in ensuring understanding of the consequences of any decision.   It was agreed that for motoring offences representation was not the norm unless a conviction meant the offender had become a totter.  It was thought that some unrepresented defendants do not realise the consequences of some motoring offences eg driving without due care or s.172 failure to provide identification of driver.  There was support for sending information of the maximum penalty for a guilty plea or being found guilty of such offences along with the court summons.  There was agreement that generally  the quality of CPS representation was questionable.  With many being agents with no authority to “take a view” when multiple charges were involved outcomes could differ from defendant to defendant apparently unfairly.  It was pointed out by a chairman that no training has been offered to bench chairmen in preparation for a probable increase in unrepresented defendants and the consequences for all within the system.

My interviews regarding trials of unrepresented defendants produced broad agreement.  There was an expectation of increased time being required especially if the non representation had not been endorsed on the preparation for trial form.  There was with only a single dissenter a belief that the bench chairman will inevitably need to become more inquisitorial there being in those circumstances no more a level playing field.  Previous practice has been that the bench was limited in its questioning of a witness to “seeking clarification” of a topic previously given in evidence.  It was felt now that that limitation with litigants in person was not conducive to justice being done and being seen to be done.  The message seemed to be that seeking the truth had to be a priority where without equality of arms there was risk of miscarriage of justice.  Most of the interviewees told me there was not 100% confidence in legal advisors being able to assist those defendants to a satisfactory level.      A very experienced chairman suggested that the Courts Charge could be reduced for unrepresented defendants convicted after trial.

There were some topics where there was general agreement.  Defendants should be provided with suitable explanatory literature with the summons and upon entry to the courthouse prior to their appearance in the courtroom.  Additional time must be allocated at trial.  Benches must be on their guard against possible miscarriages of justice and be prepared to take a more inquisitorial attitude to witnesses than has hitherto been allowed by legal advisors whose own performances were thought to be variable.  Indeed there was a majority view that increasing numbers of unrepresented defendants  could fundamentally alter the centuries old tradition of “equality of arms” or the “level playing field” so beloved by proponents of the English adversarial tradition of justice.  It therefore might be concluded that the old approach of a bench`s questioning of a witness by first stating, “Just to clarify a point Mr X..........” and hesitating to tread new ground might slowly give way to the opening of a new topic.  Those with that opinion felt getting at the truth in such circumstances justified the change of approach.  A minority was equally strong in its opposition to such changes.

My personal opinion for what it`s worth is that the provision of literature,  sent with summons and supplied  at remand courts, that explains procedures and consequences of plea and allocation is long overdue.  In the foreseeable future with anticipated increases in litigants in person it would be criminal not to so do.    Magistrates must guard against possible miscarriages of justice by omission and if that requires a more inquisitorial approach so be it.  

This kind of research into the workings of magistrates` benches is long overdue. I look forward to an independent review of what does go on in the retiring room. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT IN NUMBERS

In his memoirs published five years ago Tony Blair described bringing in the Freedom of Information Act as the worst thing his government did in office. Not unnaturally that statement upset millions of people.  Nevertheless that admission alone has a corollary; the FOI is now an indispensable tool for many this blogger included.  It is hard to believe that any future government would do likewise just as it is hard to believe how as a country where there still is a semblance of free speech we could function now without the facility it offers. The story in numbers is here.

LEGAL AID STATISTICS

It`s statistics time again for legal aid provision.  No doubt the broadsheets and others will decipher the numbers and impart their individual spin but for those of a numerical bent the figures are here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

LEGAL STRAIGHT TALKING

Two widely respected individuals have recently expressed their opinions on matters legal one of which will be refreshing for the majority involved in our courts` system and the other is already setting the feminist cat amongst the male pigeons.

Jushua Rozenberg whose comments for years have resonated with many including this blogger writing in the Law Society Gazette places his well polished boot straight into the arse of the unlamented Lord Chancellor of the coalition Chris Grayling.  His closing paragraph copied below* follows from a statement from Shailesh Vara  Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice {21/09/2015}  that he sees no significance in the numbers of J.P.s thought to have resigned...also copied below**. 


* "Gove may not be too worried by reports that more than 50 magistrates have resigned over the charge. But what should concern him is that this is another ineffective Grayling legacy that is wrong in principle and costly in practice."


**  "There is no evidence that magistrates are resigning in greater numbers this year than in previous years."

It really is about time that some senior judicial voices made themselves publicly heard on this subject.


When differences between the sexes are aired in any observation concerning however vaguely the matter of employment or capability tongues previously blunted suddenly find their sharp edge.  Linkedin provided such an entertaining scene just a couple of weeks ago.  This week no less than Supreme Court Judge Lord Sumption offered his opinion loud and clear in public  that the rush for gender equality in the senior judiciary could cause existential problems for our justice system.  The comments following the Law Society Gazette report are as thought provoking  as his lordship`s original observations.  Perhaps he will be the voice of reason on the topic above mentioned if and when he again uses his post as a pulpit for debate.

Monday, 21 September 2015

LOCAL JUSTICE:NATIONAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES??!!

A mantra of the Magistrates Association and M.P.s when it suits their "can`t lose" support for a constituency court to be under threat of closure is "local justice for local people".  Whilst the pithy phrase might suit a hustings or a sub editor on the Round the Corner Gazette the truth is that since local Magistrates` Courts Committees were abolished in 2003 to be replaced by Her Majesty`s Court Service in 2005 and subsequently merged with the Tribunals Service in 2011 to become Her Majesty`s Courts and Tribunal Service the term local is of historical interest only.  The increasing numbers of District Judges (MC) appointed without reference to their previous or original geographical location is  further evidence that  justice is national.  Sentencing Guidelines introduced in 2003 confirmed that courts were no longer to apply their own previously considered structured sentencing options which as I recall were hammered into us at training sessions and appraisals. The Guidelines,  we were told, were not to be considered straightjackets and could be disregarded provided a pronouncement was made to that effect in open court: so much for the theory.  It became apparent to me when sitting with new magistrates over the last few years that they were fearful when making sentencing decisions of not following the Guidelines as if in so doing they were on the road to perdition.  My impression was that initial training heavily accentuates the need to forget creativeness in sentencing and use the Guidelines as one would use a holy book.

With the government`s programme of court closures far from complete it is about time that those in opposition to closures in their neighbourhood should realise that "local" to the MOJ is water off a duck`s back.  Total control nationwide is happening as it is in other walks of daily life. The fact that there is now a coterie of Marxists of varying ideologies on the House of Commons front bench where there is, despite the outward appearances, a crave to nationalise everything that moves, has brought us a tiny step closer to the day when whatever Justices of the Peace do or are seen to be doing it will  not be in a courtroom.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

OBFUSCATION OR ABRACADABRA AT MOJ

Shailesh Vara The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Utilisation rates for Hartlepool, Teesside and England and Wales are provided below:
Property Name2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and County Court70%43%50%44%49%
Teesside Magistrates’ Court78%76%80%68%58%
England and Wales Magistrates' Court average59%63%63%51%46%
This shows that nationally Magistrates’ Courts are used for less than half of their available hearing time.


The above was published September 18th but the numbers cannot be taken seriously.  The definition of "utilsation rate" of magistrates` courts  is as obscure as the definition of "abracadabra" notwithstanding the reasons for their  apparent inefficiency which are often as a result of  failing performances of government`s own agencies; i.e. HMCTS, CPS and Victim Support. Once again the only magic here is MOJ spin. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

DANGEROUS DOGS

The Dangerous Dogs Acts of 1871 and 1991 supplemented by the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 form the basis of most prosecutions dealing with problems caused by man`s best friend. During my whole time on the bench I don`t think I sat on more than three such matters which more or less confirms the rarity of such prosecutions.   Currently under UK law one dog attacking another is not classed as a crime - but treated as a civil matter. Police can only step in and bring a prosecution if a dog attacks a person. This analysis might provide interesting reading for those who seek to delve into how laws are changed.  Ten defendants were proceeded against at magistrates' courts, and five were found guilty at all courts of offences related to dog fighting in England and Wales, in 2014.  The recording and analysis of these types of offences and their consequences seems less than wholly transparent which for much of government is nothing new.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

MAGISTRATES` COURTS WILL BE CLOSED! THE END

Once again that invaluable processor of  events in parliament  They Work For You has provided information from exchanges in that august but broken down place which in their own way are a microcosm of what some would show is the essence of our democracy and others the need for a complete change of approach.

The arguments for the destruction of the magistrates` courts system......and there is no other term that could be more accurately descriptive........are neatly laid out in yesterday`s debate in Westminster Hall on the situation of such courts in Suffolk.  All the spurious assertions that technology is the answer to all the criticisms are clearly recited.  No amount of persuasion is going to alter the final result.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

COURTS` PERFORMANCE STATISTICS

The MOJ`s latest trial statistics are now available courtesy of They Work For You. I`ve posted here at least twice before on this subject.  The numbers certainly did not make comfortable reading then and don`t do so now although perhaps those at Petty France with not much to do will collate some figures to tell us how the situation has improved.  I don`t have the time or inclination today to use my calculator.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

DISTRICT JUDGE`S CRASS AND IGNORANT COMMENTS

It is widely accepted that for many people newspapers do not feature as their primary source of news whether it be local or national.  Although some instances of professional malpractice from architects to members of The Veterinary Zoological Society and those alphabetically in between are widely reported,  to ensure fair treatment such learned and/or disciplinary bodies publish their own publicly available reports and registers of transgressors` failings.  So after reading this report of the forced resignation of a district judge for what can only be described as the crassest of crass comments I searched the official site for the official report and lo! there was no report. A cursory read through of the matters which are reported shows that when resignation has taken place prior to a final decision, that is mentioned in the press statement.  Perhaps there are occasions when a deal is done for the resignation not to be reported and the problem goes away.  Unless the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office is way behind in its offerings to the public ex district judge Terence Hollingworth must be hoping not too many of his nearest and dearest read the Daily Mail. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

LUNATICS ARE IN CHARGE OF THAT ASYLUM KNOWN AS THE HOME OFFICE

I am acutely aware that perhaps a higher percentage of my posts than I ever imagined would be devoted to the goings on regarding the police forces of this country.  Perhaps that is because for the last five years they have become the government`s most visible target of "austerity" in what could loosely be described as the totality of our justice system eclipsing the salami slicing of everything associated with the operation of our courts under the control of the MOJ. Of course as far as I am aware no Chief Constable or Police and Crime Commissioner has resigned in protest although an increasing number of those officials has left for other rather unsavoury reasons.  

Theresa May despite her rhetoric will never achieve or replicate the heights reached by Margaret Thatcher. She is vinyl posing as leather. It would, however, take a second glance to realise that her latest attempt to somehow improve police performance in the light of suicidal funding cuts during her tenure at the Home Office by suggesting that Fire Chiefs could become Chief Constables is not some kind of musical chairs pantomine where Humpty Dumpty falls off his wall. 

In the old days such an attempt to increase an organistion`s remit would be called empire building relying on the basis that bigger is better.With this proposal we truly are entering an era where there really are lunatics running the asylum. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

WHERE YORKSHIRE LEADS DO OTHERS FOLLOW?

Freedom to demonstrate on the streets of this country is a bulwark of our democratic rights.  Unlike many comments on "rights" such freedom has only one duty and that is to be within the law on demonstrations.  Generally that will include that a demonstration will pass peacefully and not be likely to incite law breaking by the activists or any who protest against their actions. It should cause minimum disruption to others going about their normal business.  There might be other conditions considered by police in the interests of public safety but the essential rights remain that is unless a march or similar is being planned in South Yorkshire.  The Police and Crime Commissioner in West Yorkshire supports this view that cost of policing such demonstrations must be fed into the equation to permit or not to permit. 

We are indeed entering very dangerous times where the traditional freedoms of ordinary citizens are being put at risk under the umbrella of cutting costs.  This blogger is a traditional Tory voting right of centre libertarian at heart but the  authoritarian siren voices of the Tory right are leading us up a path to be avoided.  It could be argued that the impending success of a quietly spoken rabble rouser of the Marxist wing of the Labour party has come about from just this authoritarian tendency of the Conservative Party. Such people should recollect Martin Niemöller: "First they came for the Socialists..."

Thursday, 10 September 2015

JUDICIAL CONTROVERSY OR NOT BEFORE TIME!

I make no apology for revisiting the topic of the Criminal Courts Charge.  The Justices` Clerk  for the West and North & East London Clerkships Julien Vantyghem wrote to all magistrates in his jurisdiction in April shortly before the introduction of said Charge but before its effects and consequences were apparent to a wider audience.  In his letter he wrote,  

"This is a fixed charge that the court is required to impose as part of a sentence regardless of the individual offenders’ means. This applies to offences committed on or after the 13th April 2015. The Charge is described as a ‘contribution to the cost of the running of the courts’. I attached guidance on the Charge that has been prepared by Andrew Nicholson, Deputy Justices’ Clerk for South West London. This is provided in PDF format to provide compatibility with most electronic devices. There have been various comments in the media about the introduction of this charge. I shouId remind you that magistrates are required to refrain from commenting on matters of political controversy at any time but especially at such a sensitive time as this. [ My highlight and black] No pronouncement has been issued and pending any update to the guideline pronouncements by the Judicial College I recommend that you simply state: “You are also required to pay a Courts Charge of £ (Insert Sum). This is a fixed charge that the court is obliged to impose on everyone regardless of how much money you have.”



Ok! so far so good.  Now consider this: last week, a Truro crown court judge, Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC, was reported to have told a defendant: “The charge has no bearing on your ability to pay. It is totally inappropriate for people of no means to have to pay this charge. It happens to be government policy but as an independent judge I regard it as extremely unfair and, although I have to impose it, I do so with immense reluctance.”  

Were His Honour`s remarks by making clear his personal opinion politically controversial?  If not then surely a J.P. could if s/he wished say something similar without fear of retribution.  But if the powers that be consider such remarks to indeed  be political in nature and controversial to boot then can we expect an inquiry by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office? 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

For those with a general interest in the future of our justice system and magistrates` courts and their participants in particular expectations are often raised by media reports of all those engaged in the  defence of the institution  against further cash related cuts.........from Magistrates Association to innumerable M.P.s who regard this bandwagon as a can`t lose argument towards their re-election leaflets.  That all this smoke of defiance has arisen without real fire in bellies has become apparent to this blogger at least by a front page article in the New Statesman by Charlie (Lord) Falconer the U.K.`s first Secretary of State for Justice {2007}

In the whole article of almost 3,000 words the words magistrate or magistrates` do not appear even once.

This omission tells us more of what the real movers and shakers of power and opinion think than a hundred press releases from so called interested parties.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

JUST A FEW COMMENTS

This morning with little legal news that I thought worthy of comment I scanned the Branch pages of the Magistrates Association`s recently revamped website.  Below are a few of the comments which might cause just a flicker of interest.



"Appraisals.

We are in discussions over winger appraisers being able to appraise Chairman in the Adult, Family and Youth Court. The Committee feel that an winger appraiser, who does exactly the same appraiser training course as a chair, should be able to appraise the competencies required, in fact are sometimes in a better position to do that as a winger.  If you have any comments or would like to get in touch, my contact details are below."



"John Hayward then spoke of developments and issues of interest at the MA. The 4 constituent parts of the MA are:
1.Its future: There must be on going debate about the future of the magistracy. The MA does not support the idea of a fixed 10-year term for magistrates. The proposal has been watered down and Lord Leveson is compiling a review that should result in more work going to the Magistrates’ Court rather than the Crown Court."



"1.    Reports:  All the reports had been sent to the MA to be posted on the Branch Pages, but this had not been done and the branch pages could not be accessed on the new MA website. Brief report were given to the meeting and members were told if they wanted the full reports to contact the secretary and she would email them out."



"·  New Magistrates' Induction Evening

  • Date:
  • Time: 00:00 " 




"Our Key Tasks are:
>To provide Annual Training for Branch members
>To develop ways for members to meet socially
>To develop a social group for supplemental magistrates."



"We will all do whatever it takes to support members in every aspect of their involvement in the Magistrates' Association and the magistracy."



"Branch events

·         TBC

    • Date:
    • Time: 00:00" 


"No contested nominations were received for any post ahead of the meeting."



"Miss S had the opportunity to talk to the MA membership secretary and confirm that they were altering their approach to members who were retiring by contacting them much earlier in an attempt to retain their membership. The need to retain the membership of retiring members in view of the limited level of recruitment of magistrates continues to be one of the MAs main objectives."



 "At present the membership is 279 and represents just <50% of the  Bench"