Students in mock-up court day

Published: 1 December 2005 at 11:58

A mock trial was staged in Cambridge for students on the Anti-Social Behaviour Practitioner Course, the first of its kind in the country.

The trial, held in the former Crown Court at The Guildhall, was part of the new, groundbreaking Undergraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate in Anti-Social Behaviour Practitioner Studies. The course is run by Anglia Ruskin University, in collaboration with Government Office for the East of England (GO-East) and Cambridge City Council, and is designed to give those already working in the field of anti-social behaviour (ASB) a formal qualification, with an option to extend into a full MA.

Students range from police officers to local community safety representatives and ASB practitioners, from all over the East of England.

Legal professionals from national law firm Weightmans Solicitors, based in Leicester, who specialise in police and local authority law, drew on their wide experience of ASBOs and other anti-social behaviour measures to devise realistic scenarios.

John Riddell, a partner at Weightman's Leicester office, devised and wrote the mock trial, producing the witness statements of over 20 witnesses and court documents. 

He said:

"As a leading firm in police and local government law we welcome any opportunity to meet and train practitioners. We want to pass on as much knowledge as we can and benefit enormously from speaking to practitioners about the way they approach their work."

The police officers and ASB co-ordinators played roles of the accused and victims alongside a real judge and local barristers from Fenners Chambers in Cambridge. 

Stephen Moore, Anglia Ruskin's course leader, said:

"The court scenario adds a necessary, practical element to this already cutting-edge course. By participating in the court proceedings, students can refine their existing skills and knowledge and use the day to talk to the legal professionals about important aspects of the work."

Alastair Roberts, GO-East's Regional ASB Advisor and lead officer for the Cambridge Partnership, said:

"The day was an excellent opportunity for those on the course to participate and react in a real life scenario. Tackling ASB is a specialist area of work for which we require dedicated and highly trained professionals who are familiar with legal proceedings. Court action is always a last resort; however it's crucial grounding for the work in which we're involved. By publicising activities like this, we hope to raise awareness of the ASB Practitioner Studies course, and recognise combating ASB as an essential profession."