Students Taken to Court (for the right reasons)


University of Chester journalism students attended court this week to get a taste of crime reporting.

They witnessed the sentencing at Chester Crown Court of a Cheshire-based dentist, who was accused of making racially aggravated threats to a man in Israel. Yesterday, a group of students took notes on a separate case involving multiple burglaries in Crewe, where a man pleaded guilty to taking electronics, passports and other items, on one occasion from a house where the family, which included a three-year-old-child, slept upstairs.

At Chester Magistrates Court, observers encountered a drink-driving case, where the defendant was found to be more than four times over the limit, as well as cases involving domestic violence incidents and breaches of bail.

First-year students near Chester Crown Court. For legal reasons, the photo has to be taken away from the main court building.

Dr Rhian Waller, who also attended, said: “It can be nerve-racking for students to come to court for the first time, but it’s also a fascinating experience, not only to see the process of law but also to have insight into the sometimes dysfunctional lives of all sorts of people.

“Court reporting is a key aspect of journalism, and it doesn’t matter what specialism you choose as a reporter, you may well end up in the press bench with your notebook and pen.

“I have been taking students to the courthouses for years – not because they’ve done anything wrong, obviously! – and they always acquit themselves well.

“We are very grateful to the court staff for welcoming us in.”

As part of their law and ethics training, all students across the first year of the Music Journalism, Sports Journalism, Single and Combined Honours Journalism BAs, as well as the Journalism MA, are encouraged to attend court. The experience will tie in with their assessments.

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