At ten to eight on 24 February, I arrived at Stroud Train Station to meet the rest of the group including Mrs Arstall and Mrs Halliwell. We then caught the train to Gloucester, arriving at 8.30am. After this, we walked into town until we reached Gloucester Crown Court. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a court usher who briefed us on the schedule for the day.
We were shown to our seats, which were surprisingly very close to the front, near to where the defendants, solicitors, judge and jurors were seated. It was interesting listening to the formalities, and to the detail in which the solicitors went into about the cases from an inside perspective. We watched a live video conference to a prison where a criminal was questioned by the judge about his alleged offences, whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty and when his next trial was scheduled. Over the course of four hours, we witnessed many other cases. These varied significantly, however many were linked in the fact that they involved an aspect of social media.
After all the cases for the day had been heard, Judge Jamie Taylor talked to us about his job, what it involved and what he enjoyed and disliked about it. We were also able to ask him questions and find out more about the criminal justice system in general. Finally, we caught the train back to Stroud and walked to Stroud High in time for the end of lunch. All in all it was an incredible experience that I would definitely recommend.
The Crown Court trip was an amazing opportunity to witness a real life courtroom and how it operates on a normal day. We were able to hear many different cases, from grievous bodily harm to historical sexual abuse. Not only this but we were also given a talk by a reformed criminal who had managed to turn his life around from years of drugs, murder and violence. He is now a reflective and hardworking member of the community giving talks to and helping many young people around the country.
The main message to take away from this incredible and eye opening experience is that crime isn't stereotyped to one individual or group - anyone can commit crime. In addition to this, even the most seemingly unreformable criminals can turn their lives around and even if you hit the lowest point in life, there will always be a way to change it for the better.