Chelmsford Cathedral
 
Crime and Deviance Day at Chelmsford Cathedral

On Wednesday 13th November over one hundred A level students converged on Chelmsford Cathedral for a Crime and Deviance Day. They were from Moulsham High School, The Royal Hospital School in Suffolk and The Drapers Academy in Romford. This, another in what has become an annual event organised by The Vice Dean and Canon Pastor and Lee Bryant, Head of Drapers 6th form.  It is designed as a cross-curricula day, offering students from different academic disciplines the chance to explore a topic of common interest and relevance from their particular fields of study. The day is arranged at the Cathedral as part of its outward facing outreach and mission, and to introduce the students to the concept of the Cathedral as a teaching space- a crossing point for different ideas, opinions and arguments.

There were presentations from Lee, Lilly Sharpe, herself a Year 13 student, and Ian Bickers an ex-governor of Wandsworth Prison and now Deputy Director of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and the conference was brought to a lively end by Emma Cole, who deeply affected the students by her honest and passionate account of her living with a twenty eight year old diagnosis of being HIV+. She pointed out to the students that it is one of the few conditions which, if found to have been caused deliberately, carries a custodial sentence.

During the day the students were challenged to engage on a variety of crime and deviance subjects, including women and crime, tackling issues such as why women are treated in a different way to men by the media, and why it is that statistically women commit less crime than men, a subject enhanced by a drama called ‘Five different women’ performed by some Drapers Academy students. Ian Bickers presented the young people with some fascinating statistics, like the fact that in the last thirty years the prison population has doubled, and more people are re-offending. He said that the Prison and Probation Service have reduced the number of young people in custody, but need to do the same for BAME groups; and it has been working to understand the different needs of male and female prisoners. He asked the young people to discuss whether or not they felt prisons work, and if not with what would we replace them, and how could we deter people from committing crime?

The reaction of most young people to the day was a very positive one, and staff from the schools represented committed to working on another Crime and Deviance day at the Cathedral in 2020, next time with an emphasis on criminal psychology.

Ivor Moody.

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