the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress
Sociologists visit Magistrates Court
15 February 2019
On Wednesday 6 February, fourteen A Level Sociology students eagerly set off on their trip to Birmingham Magistrates Court. Whilst it is an old building, the girls were in wonder at the beautiful structural design within the building, where previously capital punishment was delivered. As part of their studies on ‘Crime and Deviance’, this familiarity of the court gave the girls a chance to understand the procedure a person would go through for minor offences such as theft and common assault.
Firstly, we observed a case regarding a theft and then debated whilst contributing our own views of the verdict that was delivered by the magistrates. This was followed by a case involving a man possessing a kitchen knife, pepper spray and a French bulldog in Birmingham airport, despite living in Yorkshire and having no reason for being in Birmingham! An eye-opening case!
The final case we observed involved a middle-aged man being drunk and unstable at an ELO concert and showing violent and threatening behaviour. However, it could have been
argued (by the girls) that the encounters described by the witness and the perpetrator, perhaps simply represented two differing view points of the same incident.
Sadly, that was all we had time to watch, but we were very grateful to Ms Graham and Mr Wiggins for organising the trip. It certainly served to provide us with a better understanding of some of the key questions asked in A Level Sociology: Is the criminal justice system fair or is it biased towards certain social groups? Is the criminal justice system effective for a functional society? What difficulties would be faced by researchers investigating crime and deviance?
Zarish Malik, Year 13