By Connor Brylczak, 30th November 2022
All the staff were extremely welcoming as soon as I walked in and made me feel part of the team. They made a lot of effort to ensure I was comfortable and also showed a genuine interest in me, whether that be my interests, previous experience or where I am up to with my studies.
After being given an introduction by Martha on how to access the system and how to find any information I needed, I was immediately given a task to complete over the course of the week and some other documents to read over when I was in the office and had spare time. This helped to ensure I always had something to do. I already had a few visits to court and sessions with staff members pre planned in my calendar, however if an opportunity came up for additional visits the team were more than happy for me to attend with them. This led to an additional visit to the police station where I sat in on an interview with Alex and further court visits. This really showed me how dedicated and proactive all the staff were at making sure I got to see as much as possible over the week.
The Magistrates’ Court
I attended the magistrates court on multiple occasions with David. The day before my visits I was sent the case files or given a brief of who he was representing, this helped me get a firm understanding of the alleged charges and gave me an insight of all the clients. David was fantastic at explaining the reasons for everything he said and did, to make sure I got the most out of the visit. David was happy to answer any questions I had and made me feel at ease with the court environment.
Attending the Police Station
I was able to attend a police station with Helen on the Tuesday. She explained what I had to say during the interview and told me what to expect. This gave me an experience of what initial disclosure looks like between the police and a solicitor, how clients are then prepped and advised before interview and then I was able to sit in on the interview itself to observe what is said during this. Following the police interview Helen was happy to explain why she gave the advice she did and answered any questions I asked.
The following day I attended court to see the client I had initially seen the day before at the police station. This allowed me to see the full cycle of a case, starting at the initial arrest and interview, visiting the client in the cells to discuss plea and any other matters and then the first court appearance in the magistrates court. David and Helens guidance throughout this case really made me feel like I was a part of this case.
I was fortunate enough to attend a prison visit with Becky, she was brilliant at explaining what to expect, briefing me on the client and easing any nerves I had leading up to my first visit to a prison. It was a truly unique experience to be able sit in a prison with a client and hear what conversations are had before someone goes on trial. The visit was very eye opening and allowed me to see the criminal process from a new perspective.
Following on from the prison visit I was able to look at new files, alongside Becky, that could be key evidence for the upcoming trial. It was an invaluable experience to be able to view new evidence that had not yet been looked at. The level of trust shown by Becky to allow me to carry out this task was one of the many highlights of the week.
Connor’s final day
My final day included a visit to the magistrates court with David and a visit to the crown court in the afternoon with Lily. Again I was given the case references ahead of time so I could access the files and read the Initial Details Prosecution Case (IDPC) beforehand to make sure I knew what was going on when I attended. It was incredibly interesting to visit the crown court; this gave me the opportunity to see cases that carry a higher sentence and to see how the Crown Court operates. Lily allowed me to be present when she advised the client before the hearing so I could understand what she was after from the hearing.
The entire week was a fantastic experience that I feel very fortunate to have had. The friendly nature of all the staff made the week even better. I always had something productive to be getting on with and multiple staff said they were only an email away should I need additional work. I cannot thank the team enough for their contributions to my week, from Monday morning to Friday afternoon their dedication levels to me did not drop. The time they took out of their busy schedules to make sure I had the best experience is something I am extremely grateful for.