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How you can take part

The criminal justice system is one of the largest public services in the country. It is made up of police, the courts, prisons, probation and the Crown Prosecution Service.

There are a number of ways in which people can get involved in the justice system at a local level, from volunteering to attending local meetings.

Become a magistrate and other volunteering

Become a magistrate and other volunteering

Find out about the types of volunteering opportunities you can get involved in. You could check to see if your local court is recruiting magistrates, or you might consider helping offenders change their behaviour.

Attend a local beat meeting

Attend a local beat meeting

You can go to your local police beat meeting and ask questions about how your police force is tackling crime. Find out about crime in your area and when the next meeting is being held.

Sit in the judge's chair: You be the Judge

Sit in the judge's chair: You be the Judge

Confused by sentencing? You be the Judge is an online tool that let's you sit in the judge's chair, to help demystify sentencing decisions.

Watch a trial for yourself

Watch a trial for yourself

Anyone over 14 can watch a criminal trial taking place. You can just drop in, although large groups should contact the magistrates' court, Crown Court or combined court in advance. To do this, find your local court.

Organise a mock trial for your school

Organise a mock trial for your school

School students in years 8 and 9 can take part in a competition against other schools, taking on the role of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff.

Nominate a community payback project

Nominate a community payback project

Community payback is unpaid work for offenders. If you know of a piece of work that needs doing in your community, why not nominate a project for offenders to do?

Talk about the justice system with a real judge

Talk about the justice system with a real judge

If you are part of a minority group, judges can come and talk to you about the justice system. These judges are called Diversity and Community Relations Judges. Find out more about what they do and how to organise a visit on the Judiciary site.

Discuss sentencing with a magistrate

Discuss sentencing with a magistrate

You can get a magistrate to visit your school, college, workplace or community group to explain their role in the justice system and how sentencing works. Visit the Magistrates' Association website to organise a presentation.

Discuss community sentencing with those involved

Discuss community sentencing with those involved

Probation officers and magistrates can come to your community group, school or college to talk about community sentences (tagging or unpaid work for example), and how they differ from prison sentences. To organise a visit, contact your local Probation Trust.

Find out more about your local prison

Find out more about your local prison

Some prisons give tours of the prison building. Others have visitors centres where you can get information about local services. Contact your local prison to find out what it offers.

Attend a community meeting

Attend a community meeting

Many local councils hold regular community meetings where people can discuss local criminal justice issue. Check your local council site to find out about opportunities near you.

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