Sixty schoolkids in Thames Magistrates Court over ‘shop altercation’

Latest news from the courts is that 60 schoolkids from London’s East End appear before magistrates following reports of an altercation with a newsagent.

They are due at Thames Magistrates’ next month—some ready to defend themselves, others as witnesses or to prosecute.

But the hearing is a mock trial—part of this year’s national competition when youngsters aged 12 to 14 take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff—and, of course, defendants.

The 18th annual contest run by the Magistrates’ Association and the Citizenship Foundation is a specially-written scenario where teenagers are accused of handling stolen goods following an attack on a newsagent’s.

It may sound familiar, after last summer’s disturbances involving youths.

But instead, pupils are learning about the criminal justice system, how to develop confidence in public speaking and working as a team. There are rival teams from four Tower Hamlets schools and additional contests for court reporter and court artist.

The local heat is at Thames Magistrates’ Court in Bow Road on March 10, one of 65 around the country over the next three weeks. Regional finals are in May, with the prestigious national final at Nottingham in June.