A Volunteer’s Eye View

A Day at Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court.

The first thing which always strikes me at the beginning of every shift in Court is THE NOISE!!!

The day begins with loads of people milling around the entrances to the courts, talking loudly, laughing, Police Officers are calling out the names of accused at the top of their voices……some people are standing in this cacophony looking totally confused. They might need help to find their Lawyer, or the Jury reception, or a particular court……or the nearest loo! 

Round about 10.30 the noise abates…..around this time I once saw a young woman looking very distressed….she needed help because she had been stalked and her stalker was up for trial and she was terrified to see him. I called over a Policewoman who saw that she was looked after. The Court Police are very helpful.

Then there was a woman whose son was in custody and she wanted to know when he would appear….again the police were able to give her some information. Then there are sometimes the accused who were in court for the first time and scared of what would happen. They welcomed a friendly, non-judgemental person who would listen to their fears.

Some times you meet people appearing in court whose first language is not English…..you might be able to calm their fears and, if lucky, find there is a Translator already in the court foyer.

Sometimes there are periods when you are just hanging about and nothing happens. The important thing, however, is that you are THERE for anyone who might need some support.