Rare chance to see inside Family Court as Bedford Magistrate’s Court holds open day

Bedford Magistrates' Court. St Paul's Square, Bedford.
Bedford Magistrates' Court. St Paul's Square, Bedford.

A rare opportunity to see the work of the Family Court is being offered by Bedford Magistrate’s Court as it opens its doors for Universal Children’s Day.

The courthouse is hosting its open day to coincide with the United Nations’ children’s day and raise money in aid of Unicef.

Organiser Kevin Lok said the event seeks to educate the public about the family court and the role it plays in child protection.

The event also raises awareness about children in danger globally and the importance of the Children’s Rights Convention.

He said: “Family Courts have always been held behind closed doors, as hearings are sensitive and often involve children.

“The only publicity comes where there are negative cases such as Baby P, so the open day will promote the work of the court.”

On the day, there will be a mock family hearing, in the form of a competition featuring sixth-formers from four Bedfordshire schools. The winner being determined by a panel of court judges.

Mr Lok said: “They will be hearing a mock case in which a mother and father who have separated cannot decide which holiday their child will go on.

“The high court judge will consider their performance. It’s not about who’s the best lawyer, its about deciding what’s best for the child.”

The event will also feature a children’s play area with games for under fives, and facepainting in court 3A, hosted by Goldington Children’s Centre.

Various organisations including Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough councils’ fostering and adoption teams will have stalls, as will Unicef, the world’s leading organization promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child.

All the funds raised will support Unicef’s work with children in more than 190 countries providing health care, water, nutrition, education and protection for children in danger around the world.

The open day is on Saturday, November 21, from 10am until 1pm, at Bedford Courthouse, Shire Hall, 3 St Paul’s Square, Bedford.