It is well known that the number of magistrates has reduced in the last decade from around 30,000 to less than half that number; 13,000 today. Corresponding to this reduction has of course been a rapid drop in membership of the Magistrates Association. Added to this there has been a drop in the percentage of magistrates joining the MA. Latest figures extrapolated from the membership subscriptions filed in the MA accounts indicate that perhaps about a quarter of sitting magistrates have chosen not to become members of the Association. The accounts suggest that the MA`s income from members` subscriptions has fallen from over £926K in 2014 to £472 in 2018/19. No exact figure can be given because the number of members does not appear to be published. Of course if I have been careless in my research no doubt a comment will be made by those who hold the secret in their grasp.
Increasing involvement by HMCTS in training and general control of magistrates` activities might be a reason for the missing quartile. MOJ supervision of appointed and unelected so called leadership magistrates is a further indication of the slowly eroding influence of the MA. Magistrates are sorely in need of a protective and supportive organisation to represent them against the often soul destroying investigations and/or complaints by colleagues, Justices Clerks and the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office where every year dozens of magistrates are struck off for failing their sittings requirements or worse. The need is there but the will is obviously not.
A relevant post from June 2015 on MA attempts to increase its income is available here. To provide the MA`s raison d`etre further information from the horse`s mouth of the MA can be accessed here.