Towards the end of last month, The North Cheshire Magistrates in the Community Team delivered North Cheshire’s inaugural Primary Schools Mock Trial Competition- one of many local projects to be supported by the Commissioner’s Safer Communities Funding. The event was the first to be held in the North West and was attended by 48 Year Six pupils from four local primary schools; (Alderman Bolton Primary School, The Grange, St. Bede’s Catholic Junior School and St. Vincent’s Primary School).
This exciting new event, held at the SMILE Training Centre in Orford, enabled pupils to not only develop their listening skills, verbal reasoning, and confidence, but also to gain an understanding that criminal actions have consequences that could affect the rest of their lives. The mock trials provided pupils with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of court procedures by playing the roles of magistrate, prosecutors, defence lawyers, defendants, witnesses and other court officials. The court scenarios featured topics such as harassment and bullying- both important issues for primary schools. Pupils took on the role of Magistrate to decide on the innocence or guilt of the defendant based on the evidence they had heard.
After a tense morning of trials, jury deliberations and verdicts, all pupils were presented with certificates and medallions in recognition of their achievements, but it was worthy champions St. Bedes Catholic Junior School that were presented with the winner’s trophy.
Tony Clark, the co-ordinator of the North Cheshire Magistrates in the Community Team said: “I would like to thank the Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane for his support in funding this event and I’m delighted that this, the first Primary Schools’ Mock Trial Competition to be held in the North West, was such a huge success. All the magistrates who provided their time to the organisation and running of this new event were greatly impressed with the performances and commitment of the pupils. Based on the success of the day, we intend to hold this competition annually, building on the number of participating schools each year. We congratulate all of the pupils and in particular, the winning team from St. Bede’s Catholic Junior School.”
Christine Smith, deputy headteacher at St. Bede’s Catholic Junior School said: “The experience has inspired some of our pupils to consider future careers in law and all of the pupils commented on the impact the experience had on their self-confidence. The judges were so impressed by how well prepared our pupils were; by their clarity when speaking and their ability to improvise when questioning and responding. Well done to: Annabel, Ploy, Lydia, Joe, Owen, Sam, Maisie, Mia, James, Thomas and Eamon.”
Sareda Dirir, the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner who attended on the day added: “On behalf of the Cheshire Police & Crime Commissioner, David Keane, I was delighted to be supporting such a fantastic event. This is exactly the kind of community initiative that Commissioner David Keane’s Safer Community Fund is here to support. The project provided these young children with an extremely realistic insight into the criminal justice and court system. The standard of legal argument was extremely high and the confidence that the pupils displayed was quite incredible. I would like to congratulate all pupils for their achievements as well as the North Cheshire Magistrates in the Community Team for delivering such a fantastic event.”
The North Cheshire Magistrates in the Community Team intend to run the competition annually and increase the number of schools participating from across North Cheshire. For further information about the mock trial competition or the North Cheshire Magistrates in the Community Team in general, please contact Tony Clark via email: [email protected].
The next round of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Community Fund monies will be awarded this autumn. For more information, please visit https://www.cheshire-pcc.gov.uk/what-im-doing/safer-communities-fund/