Back in May 2022, we were commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner in Devon and Cornwall and the Serious Violence Prevention Partnership to deliver Court in Action, an immersive legal education programme for secondary schools.
Gaining early support from Sir Brian Leveson, the programme has brought 300 students face to face with working courts in the West Country to improve understanding, confidence, and trust in the criminal justice system.
During the visits, students took part in a Q&A with a member of the judiciary and were able to observe live cases taking place. Many even got to explore the courtroom and sit in the dock when trials were not in session.
As well as exploring the negative consequences of crime, young learners were able to discover career opportunities within the criminal justice system – from police and parole officers to barristers and judges.
Teachers were also able to access a free pack of resources to deliver legal literacy lessons in their classrooms, which is believed to have reached as many as 2400 students across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
One student said: “Being able to hear from legal professionals like barristers and judges was really useful to gain knowledge about how the system operates, along with being able to actively witness court cases.”
A teacher commented: “The students really enjoyed it and were really excited by the experience. They took a lot from it, learning about court processes and the criminal justice system in general. I think it was eye opening in terms of career pathways.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, said: “This ground-breaking scheme has been so enlightening for students and teachers in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
“With this unique insight into the role police, lawyers and judges play in our community, I hope the young participants will become advocates for our justice system, with many considering careers the sector.
“I also look forward to exploring how we can continue to work closely with schools to further embed legal learning opportunities.”
The Court in Action pilot project has now come to an end, but you can find out more about Young Citizens’ legal education work here.
If your organisation is interested in running a similar programme, please get in touch with our Director of Programmes and Learning, Yvonne Richards: email@example.com.