A group of US students have been learning about Scotland’s justice system as part of a two-week summer school with Edinburgh Napier.
The University’s School of Applied Sciences welcomed nearly 30 criminal justice students from University of West Florida, Florida Atlantic University and Washburn University for a programme of lectures, criminology-related tours and guest speakers.
As well as hearing about much of the criminology-related research being undertaken at Edinburgh Napier, the students also visited and learnt from a range of criminal justice institutions including the Sheriff Courts and Parliament House, the highest court in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and Justice Committee, Police Scotland HQ at Fettes, the Police Scotland College, Scotland’s only prison for young offenders, HMYOI Polmont, and the Scottish Prison Service College. They also has the opportunity to learn all about professionals who work with offenders in the community.
One of the highlights of the programme was a guest talk from former Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill.
Holding the post within the Scottish Government between 2007 and 2014, he regaled tales from his time in cabinet, touching on many of the initiatives and programmes he implemented as well as discussing his decision to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from custody on compassionate grounds. He also touched on some of the differences between US and Scottish policing services.
The summer school is part of an existing partnership between Edinburgh Napier and the participating American universities, and University West of Scotland. Last July, a group of students from Edinburgh Napier University visited University of West Florida and took part in a range of activities including visiting crime labs and district courts and ride-alongs with the local police department in Pensacola. It alternates between Scotland and the USA each year.
Dr Katrina Morrison at Edinburgh Napier, said: “The summer school is a fully immersive learning experience. The combination of visiting working criminal justice organisations and interacting with practitioners in their field, with a programme of academic lectures and learning activities with local students, has resulted in a profound change of outlook for the students, who may not have considered what crime and justice could look like outside of the US context before.
“It has been a joy to see them reconsider issues like the purpose of imprisonment, and the way that police officers approach difficult situations, for example. This summer school emphasises the importance of international partnerships and learning, and we look forward to supporting our students on a trip to the US next year.”