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Magistrates in the Community

This morning we had a visit from Magistrates in the Community. Our visitors, both Magistrates, shared with us their experiences and led a mock shoplifting trial.

We found out the following:

  • Anyone over the age of 18 – with no criminal record – can apply and train to be a magistrate.
  • Magistrates are volunteers – they do not get paid for the work they do. They must commit to 26 mornings a year.
  • You don’t need any qualifications to become a magistrate.
  • You do need the following qualities: a fair mind, respect for all people, an ability to focus on the facts and remain unbiased.
  • 96% of criminal trials in the UK are dealt with in the Magistrates Court. Only 4% go to the Crown Court.
  • In a Magistrates Court there are three magistrates, one of whom acts as Chairman. They are guided in the law by a legal advisor.
  • If guilty, sentencing can include discharge – fines – community order – prison (maximum of a six-month sentence).

We then took part in a mock trial based on shoplifting. We learnt about how a Magistrates' Court works and got the chance to enact a Magistrates' hearing. Three children acted as Magistrates for a shoplifting case, with other members of the class playing the defendant, witnesses, Lawyers, and court staff. The court adjourned and the Magistrates discussed in private whether they thought the defendant was guilty or not guilty. 

A really fun and interesting morning, with some great acting skills bringing the case to life!

We thoroughly enjoyed it and most of the class found the defendant guilty!

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