On Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 20th June a magistrates day was held for every year 8 student. The day has been running at the school for several years and aims to educate students about the legal process and justice system.
We were delighted to welcome 3 local magistrates, 2 police officers and a former prisoner who is now part of the Directions Project, to run 5 workshops that examined different areas of the repercussions of crime. We were delighted to be joined at the Tuesday event by the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls, who observed the day and said ‘it was a brilliant day, an fantastic eye opener to see the work being done by the magistrates, schools and police force to inform young people about the justice system and how the consequences of crime last a lifetime.’
The 5 sessions attended by students included a workshop led by PC Worsfold and PC Eppy which gave students examples of different scenarios and asked them to think about how the people involved would feel and ultimately if the behaviour was ok or not ok. This session also looked at the process of being arrested and they spoke in detail about the differing and far reaching consequences getting arrested can have. The students had lots of questions; from asking about the welfare of pets owned by people who had been arrested, to what the age of responsibility was.
Another session examined victim support, and involved students taking part in a mock interview to really understand how a victim of crime would feel. This session also examined stereotyping and the relationship between this and hate crime. A powerful video was shown to highlight to the students how important it is not to make judgements based on assumptions.
The students also attended a mock trial workshop which allowed them to understand how the magistrates court worked and also gain an understanding of how difficult it can be to decide on someone’s guilt or innocence. Following on from this workshop, students looked at sentencing and how magistrates had to take a lot of factors into consideration before passing down a sentence.
There was a very powerful session led by ex-prisoner Floyd, who transfixed the students with his real life experience of prison. Floyd works for the Direction Project, an organisation set up by ex-prisoners who work with schools and local communities to try to help young people make positive decisions by informing them about the realities of the consequences of crime. Floyd is an inspiring speaker and all the students were fully engaged with his presentation.
Both days were a great success, with students saying ‘it was really interesting’ and ‘I had a great day.’ Ms Peach, humanities teacher and joint organiser of the day said ‘we are grateful to all workshop leaders for coming to speak to the students about their roles in society in order for them to gain an understanding of the legal system and the consequences of crime. At 13 and 14 the students are at an age when they are becoming more independent and face making decisions about right and wrong. Magistrates day aims to give students information that can help them make the right decision when and if they are faced with a difficult situation.’
Many thanks to those involved in both days and to Ms Peach, Mr Fuller, Mrs Caldwell and Miss Freeman for organising such an informative and engaging day.