Young arm of the law: Peterborough pupils get experience of courtroom life with mock trials

Children told that a legal career is open to everyone during day of activities at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court
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Peterborough youngsters were given the chance to experience life in the courtroom – on the right side of the dock – thanks to a mock trial scheme.

Nearly 300 pupils from the Peterborough area met judges and took part in mock trials in a real courtroom, where they learnt about the justice system and were told: “A legal career is possible for anyone, whatever their background.”

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The judges teamed up with the National Justice Museum at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court to give children from six primary and four secondary schools an insight into the rule of law.

Pupils taking part in the trialsPupils taking part in the trials
Pupils taking part in the trials

The students, many dressed in wigs and gowns, played roles including defendant, witness, prosecutor, judge and jury in trials based on real cases ranging from cyberbullying to crimes Victorian children used to face.

District Tribunal Judge Mark Angus, who arranged the event with Gill Brailey and Kath Downs of the National Justice Museum, said: “It is vitally important that our communities know more about the judiciary and the functions of those parties who make up the justice system. The students were extremely impressive with their thoughtful questions and the manner in which they participated in the mock trials.

“The aim was to reach, support and encourage a much wider range of students from a younger age and more diverse backgrounds to understand that a career in law and even the judiciary is achievable for everyone.”

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The National Justice Museum runs mock trials at its base in Nottingham, the Royal Courts of Justice in London and across the northwest but began staging them in real courtrooms across England and Wales after Judge Angus and Senior Circuit Judge Philip Glen, who sits in the southwest, got involved.

Gill Brailey, the National Justice Museum’s Director of Learning, said: “You can’t match the impact of a young person being in a real court building, having to go through security, knowing there are real legal professionals working there, and dressing up in real wigs and gowns and using a real courtroom. Once again, the experience of talking with judges and the freedom to ask (and have answered) really considered and insightful questions brought huge added value.”

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