A public-interest charity is recruiting volunteers to become the eyes and ears of their community in Croydon’s courts.
Every courtroom has a public gallery but that usually houses only witnesses and friends and family of the defendants. Now Transform Justice is coming to Croydon to bolster community engagement in the courts through courtwatching.
But most criminal cases are actually heard in magistrates’ courts and most people who are prosecuted for crime plead guilty. The local magistrates court is open every weekday, Saturday morning and bank holidays and is open to any member of the public.
Transform Justice said, “Wander in and you can watch real cases being resolved by magistrates and district judges – people pleading guilty or not guilty, being granted bail, being remanded in custody, tried, acquitted, convicted.”
CourtWatch London aims to encourage and support people to visit their local magistrates’ court and to gather evidence from observers about what is going on.
According to one volunteer, “Just one day seriously challenged my assumptions about what goes on in the courtroom. I was impressed, saddened, and frustrated in quick succession – quite the rollercoaster! I also learned a lot about what’s going on in my local community.”
Transform Justice said, “We hear local courts are becoming dilapidated, cases are getting delayed, more people are being sent to prison, but what is the reality? Why not find out by joining CourtWatch London.”
Transform Justice is recruiting volunteers to observe magistrates’ courts in Bow, Highbury and in Croydon.
“Any adult can sign up to observe and the time commitment is flexible – from one day observing to many. Volunteer observers will receive training in what the court looks like, what to look out for and how to report on what they have seen.”
If you are interested in observing your local magistrates’ court, just click here, or email email@example.com to sign up.
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