On 22nd March the House of Commons Justice Committee took evidence on the role of the magistracy. I am sure that many will find the session interesting - to say the least! You may have to wait a few seconds for the video playback to appear.
Sir Brian Leveson (President of the Queens Bench Division) -Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings
Toward the end of the Justice Committee session there is some reference to the "Community Magistrates" in New Zealand - see Restorative Justice in New Zealand; District Court Justices of the Peace; and District Court Community Magistrates.
It's also interesting that this IPSOS MORI 2011 report was referred to - The strengths and skills of the judiciary in the Magistrates' Courts
Also, when the committee and its witnesses mentioned benches comprising a District Judge and Magistrates I could not help but think back to the Auld Report in 2001. I am aware that such benches are convened from time-to-time but the criteria for doing so are not particularly clear.