Sociology Students Witness Criminal Trials at Crown Court

Sociology students  got the chance to see how the English justice system works up close with a visit to Canterbury’s Crown Court.

The Worthgate School students joined others in the public gallery to watch an afternoon of trial sessions. This included students being able to see witnesses giving evidence and cross-examination by lawyers in a number of cases through the afternoon.

Experiences like this are invaluable to those wishing to go on to study Law, Politics or Sociology at a top UK university. Having a chance to see the law in action allows students to fully understand the way that it works in practice and how it impacts everyone involved from the victim and the accused to the jury, judge and lawyers.

During both the breaks in the trial students gathered to apply theories of criminology which they had been studying in class, reflecting on and examining the trials. This brought to light some of the possible causes of the crimes. The students were well versed in applying this knowledge as it builds upon a criminology conference they attended last year.

Student Experience

One student commented that the courtrooms reminded her of the panopticon prisons that the class has been studying. Panopticon prisons are those with 360-degree visibility which functions as a system of control over the prisoners. This sparked a discussion around how the jury in the trials were obscured from the public gallery, meaning they could not be seen. The students discussed how risk, confidentially and safety played parts in both trials and incarceration.

Another student said she was impressed that some of the witnesses had access to expert translators, who worked quickly to keep everyone informed of what was going on. This led the group to explore ideas of institutional racism and ways we saw it being reduced in practice.

Aside from being a deeply informative day out, that has opened the eyes of many students to the realities of the system of law in England, it also feeds into future study at the school as students approach the final topic of Global Development.

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