Children get a court summons

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PUPILS from Morpeth will be called to court on Saturday.

But they have nothing to fear as it is all part of an annual schools’ contest.

Youngsters from Chantry and Newminster middle schools will be among seven teams taking part in the Mid and South East Northumberland heat of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition.

The event sees children aged 12 to 14 take on all the roles seen in court, such as solicitors, witnesses, magistrates, staff and defendants, with the most realistic portrayal of proceedings taking the prize.

The competition is run by the Citizenship Foundation and Magistrates’ Association to help pupils learn about the criminal justice system — the law, procedures, consequences and staff — as well as develop personal skills, including public speaking, analysis techniques and teamwork.

Legal professionals help the teams to prepare by providing information about the everyday workings of the courts and hosting court visits.

Local organiser JP Lesley Dickinson said: “Every role in the courtroom is represented and all the trial magistrates from the schools sit on the bench alongside a real adult magistrate.

“It aims to give them an understanding of how the courts run and helps them with their citizenship studies.”

Battling it out with Chantry and Newminster at the court in Bedlington will be Bede Academy, Bothal Middle School, Cramlington Learning Village, Duchess’s Community High School and the Duke’s Middle School, from Alnwick.

The winning team will receive a trophy and cash prize for the school, as well as progressing to the regional heat in May for the chance to take part in the national finals in Nottingham in June.

The competition is funded by Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunals Service and the Jomati Foundation.

Morpeth Town Council has awarded £100 in sponsorship towards the local event.