‘Mind the Justice Gap‘ is our joint Public Legal Education project in partnership with the Justice Gap, the UCL Centre for Access to Justice and the Hackney Council of Voluntary Services. The project is aimed at young people and is to help explain their legal rights and demystify the law. Mind the JusticeGap will be an online advice guide about the law aimed at young people informed directly by the experience of young people in schools and colleges in the borough.
On Monday 11th March 2013, as part of the project’s objectives to ensure that the guide will be fully informed by the views of young people from Hackney, the project made its second visit to a local Hackney school by visiting Hackney Community College (HCC) to put on a special tutorial session for some of its ‘A’ Level students. The project had previously visited Mossbourne Academy in November 2012.
Jennie Rawlings from UCL (pictured above) and HCLC development officer, Miranda Grell, introduced the session, explaining what the Law Centre does and what the Mind the Justice Gap project was seeking to achieve.
The session began with a special ‘Clickers’ exercise. Students were shown a series of slides with questions about legal topics and were asked to vote – by using the clickers- for what they thought was the correct answer.
Over half of the HCC students correctly answered the question ‘If my friend commits a crime while I am there, can I be convicted of the same crime‘ by clicking answer ‘C’, which stated ‘Yes – if I encourage it or help her not to get caught‘. Jennie (pictured above) then discussed the legal terms for that ‘encouragement‘ with the students- ‘Aiding and abetting‘ and ‘Joint enterprise‘.
92 per cent of HCC students were surprised to discover that borrowing something without asking is not theft if there is ‘no intention to deprive‘. Jennie from UCL explained why. It was heartening to see that 67 per cent of the students thought that ‘being a lawyer is ‘the kind of job that can “make a difference” and 94 per cent believed that ‘everyone should have free access to legal advice‘ but despite these positive views about the role of lawyers and free legal advice only a third of students said they would consider becoming a lawyer. That is something we hope the Mind the Justice Gap project will help change!
The next part of the session called ‘Thinking like a lawyer‘ involved an interactive exercise. The HCC students were given two scenarios touching on a difficult moral dilemma. The students were split into two groups – playing lawyers for the claimant and respondent, respectively. In the first exercise, half the group were asked to argue in favour of newspapers having the right to photograph a famous person drunk in a private garden; the other half had to argue against the alleged invasion of privacy.
The second exercise looked at an adoption court case where a biological mother, who had signed a pre-birth contract agreeing to adopt her child, changed her mind after the child’s birth. Half of the students played lawyers for the biological mother and came up with legal arguments about her right to keep the baby. The other half of the students played lawyers for the prospective adoptive parents, who were arguing that the biological mother had breached the legal contract she had made with them, by changing her mind about the adoption.
It was really great to talk to the students in small groups and discuss these meaty issues as Kristan from UCL (pictured above with the students) had the opportunity to do.
The ‘Thinking like a lawyer‘ exercise was followed by a special ‘Stop and Search’ sketch, co-ordinated by Deji Adeoshun of the Hackney Council of Voluntary Services (pictured above, with two students from HCC, playing an aggressive police officer).
Deji explained the HCC students’ rights under ‘Stop and Search’. The sketch and Deji’s talk was so popular that many of the students rushed to speak to Deji afterwards to ask about how they could get involved in HCVS’ special stop and search monitoring group, which monitors police use of stop and search procedure in Hackney.
UCL’s brilliant barristers in the making, Anthea Brookes and Sam Frank (pictured above), then acted out the role of defence and prosecution barrister, respectively, in a mock criminal trial. Like the Mossbourne Academy pupils who had watched the same mock trial, the lenient HCC students, who acted as the judge in the case, also decided to grant Anthea’s client bail….
*We are extremely grateful to Fayola Massiah, Hackney Community College’s Senior Tutor for the Sixth Form Department, (pictured above left) for arranging the HCC session, and to Sullimen Peerbacos, Curriculum Manager of English and Humanities (pictured above right) for supporting the HCC session.
*We also say a huge thanks once again to the Mind the Justice Gap Project’s participating UCL students for masterminding the brilliant clickers session and mock bail trial:
*A very special thanks also goes to Deji Adeoshun from HCVS for his superb sketch on stop and search*.
Please find the full results of the HCC clickers’ exercise, setting out the HCC students’ views and opinions on the law HERE.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org uk if you would like to know more about the ‘Mind the Justice Gap‘ project*.