A teenager broke his friend’s jaw and threatened others with a knife after the muscle building steroids he was taking made him aggressive.

The youngster called Connor was sent to a young offenders’ institute for six months after a court heard that he also engaged in cyber bullying by threatening his previous girlfriend on social media.

Connor blamed his behaviour on the fact he had been taking steroids to aid his fitness work in the gym.

Although based on real events, this was actually a drama workshop organised as part of the pioneering Justice in a Day project.

The aim is to give young people a taste of how the criminal justice system works and the devastating effect crime can have on families and the community.

The day-long workshop was attended by 40 Year 8 and Year 9 pupils from Ysgol Aberconwy, in Conwy, and Ysgol Eirias in Colwyn Bay.

The morning session was at the Tŷ Hapus Community Centre, in Llandudno, where three professional actors from Clwyd Theatr Cymru, in Mold, and a facilitator guided them through the hard-hitting drama.

The students then attended Llandudno Magistrates’ Court where they witnessed first-hand the workings of a magistrates’ court and what happens when a young offender is sentenced.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Winston Roddick CB QC, a former barrister and judge, gave the proceedings an extra touch of realism.

Mr Roddick took on the role of chair of the magistrates’ bench, alongside two students, and sentenced the ‘offender’ before answering questions on a range of criminal justice system issues.

The Justice in a Day project was launched five years ago and has already worked with more than 3,500 young people across the region.

The new five-week programme, supported by Scottish Power Foundation and the North Wales Police Community Trust (PACT), is running across the whole of North Wales and will see a further 900 young people attending workshops.

Mr Roddick said: “I have been very impressed to witness the Justice in a Day programme and play the role of chair of the bench in the Magistrates’ Court.

“I feel that very often the criminal justice system is a mystery to young people. They have little idea of how it works and how courts and other agencies involved in cases arrive at what are often highly complex decisions.

“I think for young people to see how the criminal justice system works as a whole and how crime can affect so many people whether it is parents, victims, witnesses or the offenders themselves, will make many think seriously of the consequences of offending.

“I think that became clear with the informed and pertinent questions they asked which clearly demonstrated to me how they had been inspired by what they had witnessed.

“This is a wonderful programme and I hope to see it continue in the future. The more young people that have the chance to experience Justice in a Day the better informed they will be.”

Jade Keegan, 13, a pupil at Ysgol Eirias, sat alongside Mr Roddick and took on the role of a magistrate.

She said: “It’s been a really good day and far better than being in a classroom. I have learnt so much and it’s really got me thinking. I never thought courts would listen or take into account so many opinions.

“It’s really amazing how the whole system works and how everything comes together. And I never really thought about the effect committing a crime could have on everyone connected to the offender as well as the witnesses and victims.”

Morgan Miller-Smith, 13, from Ysgol Aberconwy, was the third magistrate.

He said: “It’s been really enjoyable and interesting and I think it’s important to know how the criminal justice system works. I never realised how many different roles there were and the amount of work involved.

“It definitely made me think about the consequences of committing a crime and how it can affect so many people.”

PACT project manager David Evans added: “It’s about taking it out of the classroom and making it a realistic as possible.

“The scenario we use was a real case, although the names have been changed. The drama was written by Emyr John, of Clwyd Theatr Cymru who is also the facilitator.

“It’s proved to be a brilliant way to guide young people through the workings of the criminal justice system and showing them the consequences of crime and how offending affects so many people.”

According to Ysgol Eirias teacher Rob Popsys, it was an “absolutely superb” day.

He said: “It really is a wonderful way to engage with young people and teach them important lessons. It has to be better than sitting listening to a classroom lecture.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Year 9 guide and mentor, Emma Edwards, from Ysgol Aberconwy.

She said: “It’s been very thought-provoking and you can tell from the questions they have asked just how engaged they have been with the programme.”

Roy Jones MBE, Scottish Power’s Community Liaison Manager, said: “The Scottish Power Foundation is committed to improving the lives of local communities across the UK and highlighting the importance of citizenship and youth development to children and young people.

“We are delighted to sponsor a project like Justice in a Day which is engaging with students across North Wales providing a positive impact on the lives of the young people.

“It challenges students to think about real-life situations and shows how destructive committing a crime can be.”

 

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