October 17-23 Inside Justice Week

14th October 2005 at 01:00
This week of national, regional and local events offers schools and communities the chance to explore and get involved in the criminal justice system.

Outline script

Who is responsible for seeing law and order happen in this country? Most people would say the police. Then come the courts and perhaps prison for those found guilty of serious crime. But many ordinary people are involved as well, including volunteers.

Jeff (not his real name) got into trouble with the law when he was 14.

Luckily, he met a worker from a youth inclusion programme which helps young offenders. This worker encouraged Jeff to finish school, helped him stop drugs and listened to his problems.

A year later, Jeff started doing voluntary work (including DJ-ing) to help other young offenders. He's now 19, a qualified youth worker and is mentoring 12 young people who have been in trouble. Several parents have said to him, "If you weren't here, my kids would be locked up by now."

Ordinary people can help in other ways. A person may see a crime and dial 999, or if it is not urgent may report the crime at the police station. The police take these reports seriously and rely on the public for information.

They also need the public to act as witnesses. Some people are nervous of being a witness but there is a witness service which looks after witnesses when they give evidence in court and afterwards.

Others work for Victim Support, a charity which helps the victims of crime.

Some volunteer to be prison visitors and befriend lonely prisoners, help run a Neighbourhood Watch scheme or become mentors. When you're 18, you can even volunteer to become a "special" (or part-time) police officer.

Follow-up

For an assembly or as part of a PSHEcitizenship course, organise a mock trial.

Local agencies may be able to help. For example, it may be possible for a mobile police cell to visit the school.

Arrange a visit to a crown or magistrates court.

The Inside Justice website is at: www.cjsonline.gov.ukinsidejustice Both Sussex and Warwickshire police have useful websites: www.sussex.police.uk and www.warwickshire.police.ukcurrentIssuesinsidejusticeweek A website for young people provides information and advice about the law, crime and the consequences of offending: www.rizer.co.uk

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