Students investigating murder in schools! Crime scene to courtroom

  • Students investigating murder in schools! Crime scene to courtroom

(Yes, you read that right!)

As a teacher, have you ever been challenged to bring fun, excitement and real experience direct from the workplace into the classroom?

Four years ago, a headteacher asked that very question and challenged a small, dedicated team of experienced Detectives and Crime Scene Investigators to do just that and the “Criminology: Crime Scene to Courtroom Workshop” – BASED ON A REAL MURDER – idea was born.

Much of the population seems to be obsessed with crime and global audiences of television programmes such as Police Interceptors, CSI, Making of a Murderer and Catching a killer run into billions of people.

When Simon at Zakon Training, a Police Detective of 25 years, and more latterly a teacher was asked to devise the programme, he used this as inspiration to provide really practical learning with an array of investigation and forensic exercises straight from the crime scene.

He said:

“I was challenged in one particular school, who were struggling to engage some pupils, to provide really dynamic lessons using the motivation of criminal investigation and forensic science. I devised a range of practical exercises from the real world of criminal investigation and ran a CSI club over six weeks for an hour a week, although this was a primary school, the headteacher was blown away with the enthusiasm and participation of the class. He suggested that we offer this more widely and I’ve been flattered with the demand since for our sessions that now see us run full day workshops in primary and secondary schools across the country.”

This day is very close to Simon’s heart as it was his daughter Isabella’s school where this initiative started and she is still the face of the Police and Crime Scene Science Workshop which can be seen here and this continues to grow in popularity.

During the day children are guided through a set of practically based scenarios demonstrating how science aids an investigation and how their classroom based learning facilitates this.

They look at investigation, searching, deprivation of liberty (arresting) and DNA, and the day concludes with the investigation of a “real” grizzly death where all of their skills are brought together.

The children are introduced to a wide range of careers within investigation, law and science in particular.

Joe Stephenson, Head of Junior School in Davenies said:

“It was great to see the links between what they learn at school and where it can take them, for some of our budding scientists in particular. Phil (from Zakon) commanded the children’s attention for extended periods of time, I take my hat off!”

Owing to the popularity of this, Zakon then developed a workshop for secondary school and college students which is BASED ON A REAL murder that some of the Zakon team had investigated and so it’s as real as it gets.

This workshop entitled Criminology: Crime Scene to Courtroom can be seen here

During the Crime Scene to Courtroom workshop, students spend the day in the shoes of a detective and investigate the case just as it was for real.

They start with a 999 call from the scene of a suspicious death and then work their way through an intensive investigation, filled full of practical investigation and forensic science exercises in which they build a case to present at court.

The law, judicial system and courtroom process is explored before the students run their own trial during which their own murder investigation is presented.

Each and every student gets a role and this hotly contested debate sees them have to defend their investigation, decisions and thought processes before the jury considers the evidence and decides whether the suspect is guilty or not!

Paul from Zakon was the Senior Investigating Officer who led the actual murder enquiry upon which this day is based said:

“It’s a delight to see so many students apply so much thought into the investigation, they often come up with thoughts, ideas and enquiries that we never even considered whilst investigating the actual case. I’m also impressed daily with how confidentially and fluently students present their case in court, even those students who I’m told would normally sit back. The jury really apply a lot of thought to their verdict and are often surprised by the outcome of the real case which they don’t get to know until the end!”

During the day, students are introduced to a whole host of potential careers within police, investigation agencies, forensic science, law and the wider criminal justice system.

The day inspires students, gives them focus, confidence and Zakons role models really provide inspiration from real world experience of criminal investigations.

Most of the Zakon team have legal and investigative degrees to complement their experience but are picked for their ability to interact with students giving them inspiration and motivation.

The Criminology: Crime Scene to Courtroom workshop is based around the WJEC curriculum and covers law, criminology, science and so much more. It really validates classroom teaching showing how this can be applied in the workplace.

Kate from Zakon said:

“I love running these workshops, to see the enthusiasm of the students and seeing the spark light up in their eyes warms my heart every time, I only wish these days were around when I was at school. I’ve even been back to schools to run these for teachers on inset and teambuilding days, they can’t help but get stuck in!”

Despite running training for police, business, legal professionals and investigation agencies, Simon said:

“The school days are by far my favourite events to run, to think I started this day as a favour in my daughters school and now my small team are inspiring young people across the country fills me with pride every single day.”

For further information, you can contact Zakon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Zakon also maintains an extensive Criminology library, packed full of investigation, policy, law and safeguarding documents. This is free and can be accessed at

Pie Corbett