AROUND 100 youngsters appeared in Hereford court in one day - but not for breaking the law!

The students battled in front of magistrates as they took part in the 2020 Mock Trials Competition.

Pupils of High School teams from across the county took on the roles of defendant, witnesses, magistrates, lawyers and court staff in the annual competition, which is run in partnership by the court service and the Young Citizens charity.

Students’ preparation began months before the actual event, which is organised by a team headed by magistrate Mrs Leigh Brazewell working with schools throughout Herefordshire.

Each set of students had to research and build their own case, though all shared the same scenario - criminal damage occurring during a climate-change protest. The 12-14 year-old pupils had to role play without any reliance on a script, and against teams they had not met before.

Local dignitaries attending the high profile student event included The Countess of Darnley, the Lord-Lieutenant; Judge Pearce-Higgins ; High Sheriff James Hervey-Bathurst; Councillor Sebastian Bowen, Chairman of Herefordshire Council; Councillor Kath Hey, Mayor of Hereford; and Mr Dick Makin, Wye Valley Rotary Youth Opportunities Officer. A presentation ceremony afterwards was led by magistrate Mr Paul Deneen.

The project was also supported by West Mercia Police, with Sgt Duncan Reynolds, PCSO Anna Reynolds and police cadets in attendance on the day - which turned out to be the last civic gathering in Hereford before the Corona restrictions.

Co-ordinator Mrs Leigh Brazewell JP said “We were lucky to fit in the competition just before the Corona restrictions seriously took hold here in Hereford. The students had been working hard on the project since September, and it was great they were able to see it through. They all did really well, and were a credit to their respective schools”

The competition educates youngsters about the consequences of crime both on individuals and on the community, and the importance of everyone taking responsibility for their own actions. As well as team prizes, several students also won individual awards for outstanding work.

First Place went to Whitecross High School, who also won a trophy for ‘Best Defendant’.

Other local schools taking part included Bishops HS, Fairfield HS, Kingstone Academy, Wigmore HS and Steiner Academy.

Pictured are winning students from Whitecross and dignitaries with the Winners Cup and the Best Defendant Cup