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18 October, 2005

Foundation supports Criminal Justice Week

The Citizenship Foundation and the Bar Council, through the Bar National Mock Trial Competition, will be supporting Criminal Justice Week (17-23 Oct) by sending barristers into over 200 schools to help young people prepare for 'trial'.

The first regional round of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition for schools takes place on Saturday 12th November, and a team of dedicated barrister volunteers will be meeting with the students during and after Criminal Justice Week to help them prepare.

During the Competition the students, aged 15 to 18, will play the parts of barristers, witnesses, court staff and jurors, and will compete against one another in mock trials, judged by real-life circuit judges, with a view to winning a place in the national final in March 2006.

One barrister volunteer, Justin Kitson, Chairman of the Young Barristers' Committee, praised the 'tremendous' commitment and enthusiasm of the students.

"They clearly relish the opportunity to test their skills in reasoning, argument and thinking on their feet. They also greatly value the chance to meet and talk to 'real' barristers and are keen to seek our advice - and borrow our wigs and gowns!"

Bar Council Chairman Guy Mansfield QC called the competition 'a superb opportunity for young people to get to grips with their justice system', and expressed his gratitude that 'so many barristers and judges give up their time to add to knowledge of the law among young people'. "The Bar is an enthusiastic supporter of education for citizenship, and of Criminal Justice Week", he said.

However, there is more to it than just one week of activity. "For us Criminal Justice Week lasts for the entire year", says Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation.

"Through the Competition, which has been running for 15 years, we aim to help young people to understand the justice system and the role that they have to play as members of their community."

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