Children are set for trial date to face the judges

DOZENS of children will have their day in court in an annual competition.

Five schools from Northumberland will compete in the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition, including Morpeth’s Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools.

The contest aims to introduce 12 to 14-year-olds to the legal system in an innovative way.

Magistrates, solicitors, law students and court staff give up their time to explain the system and help pupils prepare for a mock trial, which sees them taking on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff, defendants, reporters and artists.

This year, the case involves a defendant accused of dishonestly receiving a stolen bicycle, and the Mid and South East Northumberland heat will be held at Bedlington Law Courts.

The competition helps children to develop confidence and skill in public speaking, analysis techniques and team work. It is judged by magistrates and legal professionals.

The local heat takes place on Saturday, March 15, with the winners going on to the regional final in May. The national final is in Birmingham in June.

Morpeth Town Council has donated £100 in sponsorship to the event.

Finance and General Purposes Committee Chairman David Parker said: “This does seem a very worthwhile event and encourages young people to become more au fait with the criminal justice system.”

Chantry Middle School won the local event last year. In addition to the Morpeth schools, this year’s contest features teams from Cramlington Learning Village, Duke’s Middle School, Alnwick, and Seaton Sluice Middle School.