A project showing children what it is like to be sentenced to custody has a lasting effect on pupils, research has found.
Schemes involve workshops with police and other agencies. Image: NTI
An evaluation of community and safety awareness days (CSADs) run by educational charity The No Way Trust, stated that overall satisfaction rates were high, with more than 98 per cent of children stating that they found the course either “valuable" or "very valuable”.
The day-long classroom events have a "prisoner for the day" theme and feature core workshops delivered by agencies, including the prison service, drug and crime agencies, fire and police services, magistrates’ courts, victim support and youth offending teams.
Activities include local magistrates staging mock trials together with real solicitors and court clerks, and visits to a replica prison cell inside a van.
The report found that between one and three years after taking part in CSADs, pupils had “retained information, gained knowledge and applied it to their lives”.
Out of 296 children interviewed by evaluators, 23 per cent said they had been involved in situations where they could have become involved in crime since the CSAD took place.
Around half of those who had been involved in a situation agreed that the learning gained had affected what they did in the situation.
“Some of the evaluation evidence gathered from pupils points in the direction of positive changes in attitude and behaviour which are likely to contribute to a reduction in youth crime.”
The programme was awarded a three-year grant of £480,000 from the Department for Education (DfE) Young People’s Fund in 2008.
Between April 2008 to April 2011 a total of 487 CSADs were delivered to over 260 individual schools, with approximately 115,000 pupils in the aged from 12 to 14 getting involved.
“Overall, CSADs have been well received,” the report states. “Evaluation evidence has shown that CSADs have lasting effects on pupils and observations have shown this to be a very good, one day experiential, learning event.”