M.A. SHOUTINGThe only reason I paid this year`s subs to the Magistrates` Association was to glean some sort of idea of what the tiny minority who contribute to its on line forum considers matters of interest. There is just no means available to me or most others to have any sort of idea of what the “elected” representatives think or do until after the event. There have been tentative approaches to use the internet to further some semblance of representation but there does not appear to be any desire to have the organisation represent the actual opinions of its members. It is not an organisation which is constituted as any sort of professional union similar to eg the British Medical Association. It does not offer any professional indemnity which very very occasionally might be a practical problem for a J.P. with regard to appeals. It offers no paid for professional support for Justices facing disciplinary procedures of any description. In short it is an anachronism and whether by design or otherwise it has ceased to have any meaning in its current form.

Recently it was reported that a 12 year old child with an IQ of 58 was discharged despite having admitted to dozens of charges some quite serious. That the District Judge acted correctly is probably not in contest but my point today is whether it was appropriate for John Bache, chairman of the youth courts committee at the Magistrates’ Association, to have given his approval of that decision.

I do not sit on youth matters so to some degree I look upon such comments as an outsider. But if in principle his contribution and his authority so to make is not to be criticised where is the limit for any chairman of any M.A. committee to find his boundary in comments to media?