Pupils prepare to face up to their day in court

SEVERAL Morpeth pupils will appear in court over an assault case.

But the youngsters are not in trouble with the law – they are just learning about it.

The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition aims to teach groups of 12 to 14-year-olds about the criminal justice system, including the law, procedures, consequences of crime and the legal profession.

Pupils take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff and court reporters to present a case after working with magistrates, law students and other legal professionals to prepare.

The competition, which is run by the Citizenship Foundation and Magistrates’ Association, seeks to develop pupils’ confidence in public speaking, analysis techniques and team work.

This year’s specially-written case is based around a fictional ex-soldier charged with assault.

A total of 69 heats will be held nationwide, including one at Bedlington Law Courts on Saturday, March 16.

Eight schools have signed up for the Mid and South East Northumberland heat, including Morpeth’s Chantry and Newminster middle schools, and the High Sheriff Harriet Benson has been invited to attend.

The winning team will go on to the regional final in May for the chance to take part in the national final at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court in June.

Last year more than 6,000 young people, along with 800 magistrates and legal staff, took part in the contest across the country.