One day last week my courthouse played host to a group of youngsters from a primary school in our justice area, under the auspices of MiC. Magistrates in the Community gives magistrates a chance to volunteer to talk to groups of school kids, university students or adults, about the court system either at the court or outside court.
First the group went into a court room before the start of business; whilst two magistrates explained generally what happens in court, about the offences dealt with etc. etc. Witness Support came and spoke for a few minutes about how evidence is given by young people and the measures taken to help them to prepare for giving their evidence, and about screens and video link. They saw the cells and a prison van thanks to the Serco staff who went out of their way to be helpful and spoke to the group about some of their work. I’m pleased to report the kids definitely had no wish ever to see a cell or the inside of a van again.
Then it was into a court room’s public gallery. Unfortunately they then spent quite some time listening to a case management form being completed which was hardly the lively cut and thrust they might have wanted to hear but we were in the real world.
Finally there was a question and answer session. It was amazing how much of the detail they had picked up during the case management and of the bail conditions so they were clearly listening intently. They asked a lot of very sensible questions. They knew about several offences but it came as surprise that if they decided to stop going to school and play truant every day, their parents could face prosecution.
All in all a very well worthwhile morning’s work and the future suddenly seems a little safer.