The National Forum (NBCF) is made up of an elected representative from each of seven Regional Forums in England and Wales to which all Bench Chairmen have access and where they can discuss issues of mutual concern, share good practice and develop networks. The Forum provides a framework to support the 160 Chairmen of Magistrates Benches in England and Wales and a voice at national level so that their views can be effectively taken into account.
Bench Chairmen are elected by all magistrates on a Bench and speak for and lead the Bench, providing representation at HMCTS Area level and all are members of the Forum whilst they are in office. A Bench Chairman is elected annually and may hold office for a maximum of three years.
Representatives of the Forum participate in regular liaison meetings with the Senior Presiding Judge, the Chief Executive of HMCTS, the Justices’ Clerks Society and the Magistrates Association, and other key members of the judiciary and administration. The National Forum meets at least four times a year and each Regional Forum meets three or four times a year. All chairmen also receive a regular update from the NBCF Chairman.
Legal Services, a team within the HMCTS Crime Directorate provides the secretariat functions to the NBCF and will send information directly to all Bench Chairmen.