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19 October, 2006

12-14 year olds to take over at Cardiff Magistrates Court

On Saturday 21 October, pupils from Abersychan Comprehensive School, Pontypool and Tonypandy Community College, will take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff to try a case in Cardiff Magistrates’ Court as a pilot heat for the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association.

The two teams of students, from years 8 and 9 will compete against each other in a live format, and will be judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals. They will use carefully constructed witness statements to prepare the prosecution and defence of a specially written criminal case, R v Toni Mitchell, where the student playing Toni Mitchell will stand accused of joyriding.

Elin, a pupil participating in the North Wales pilot commented, “There is a lot of responsibility attached to being a magistrate. It requires listening carefully to everything that you hear in court. You are dealing with people’s lives. I thought that magistrates were people who enjoyed dishing out punishment. The lady that visited our school was not that kind of magistrate.” Fellow pupil Sion added, “It was a fantastic and realistic experience to be in a proper court.”

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation said “Over 95% of criminal cases are dealt with by magistrates, yet very few people know enough about their vital role. The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition offers young people year olds a hands-on introduction to the legal system, the role of magistrates' courts in local justice and how laws are administered.”

Both teams are planning to take part in the 2006/2007 Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition which will run from March to June 2007. Schools interested in signing up to take part should contact mcmt@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk or call 0207 566 4155.

Notes for editors:

1. The competition will take place in Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, Fitzalan Place, Cardiff, CF24 0RZ from 10am to 1:30pm. If you would like to attend please contact Catherine Torazzo on

0207 566 5034 / 07813035788 or email Catherine Torazzo

2. If you would like any further information or a copy of the case, please contact:

Catherine Torazzo, PR Officer at the Citizenship Foundation, Tel: 0207 566 3034,

Mob: 07813 035788 email Catherine Torazzo

3. About the Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no.801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society, Founded in 1989, it focuses on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. Its work includes resources, training, active learning programmes, community projects and research. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

4. About the Competition

Now in its 13th successful year, the Magistrate’s Mock Trial Competition is run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association and is funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Wilkinson. Each year the competition it involves 4,500 young people throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 800 magistrates and other legal professionals. It is open to all state funded secondary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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