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Pupils get a grip on the law

A project to help Derbyshire pupils understand the criminal justice system is to be rolled out nationally.

It aims to help pupils understand what giving evidence in court involves - whether as a victim, perpetrator or witness.

The Derbyshire School Citizenship Project, run by the local Crown Prosecution Service, has helped more than 2,000 pupils to learn about the legal system. During two one-hour citizenship lessons, pupils study the processes involved in taking a case to court. Assuming the role of Crown Prosecutor, they are handed a full case file and listen to recorded witness statements. Based on this evidence, pupils then decide whether or not to pursue the case in court.

The scheme was set up two years ago to boost pupils' awareness of their legal rights and responsibilities. This month, it will be piloted in Nottingham, Lincoln and Leicester. Over the next 18 months, it will be rolled out across the country.

Chris Mitchell, of Derbyshire CPS, said: "If people understand the system and what takes place in court, it may change their behaviour patterns. Ultimately, we may be able to reduce crime."

The project is designed to be delivered to Year 9 pupils, but can be adapted for other year groups.

- www.cps.gov.ukderbyshire.

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