St Leonards youngsters join police debate

The police and crime commissioner's youth commission visit a group of young peoplewho attend the CRI (Crime Reduction Initiatives) Families and Parenting Service
The police and crime commissioner's youth commission visit a group of young peoplewho attend the CRI (Crime Reduction Initiatives) Families and Parenting Service

Young people have had a chance to have their say on how they view the police and what can be done to improve the relationship between them.

Sussex police and crime commissioner’s youth commission visited a group of young people in St Leonards who attend the Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI) Families and Parenting Service.

The focus of the workshop was to talk about the police relationship and how this could be improved.

It was supported by Conor Simmonds, 19, a member of the youth independent advisory group and a mentor to this year’s youth commission.

“At the start of the session we asked the group to write down all the different names young people call the police on a post-it and stick them on a board,” said Conor.

“At first, the group was quite worried and looked at each other. So I broke the ice by writing the first two or three words and placing them on the board.

“Then, one by one, all the others started to talk about the words young people use to describe the police and got up and placed them on the board.

“We then moved on to the Youth Commission’s myth-busting stop and search quiz which the group really enjoyed and raised lots of questions and discussion around when they or their friends had been stopped by the police.

“As I’m currently training to be a Special Constable, I was able to use my knowledge and talk to the group about their rights around stop and search.”

The visit was part of the commission’s Sussex-wide consultation – the Big Conversation – with their peers on policing and crime issues.

CRI education coordinator Dan Ryan said: “The SYC has now delivered two workshops to our young people and it is evident their attitude towards the police and authority, in general, seems to have changed somewhat.

“The SYC challenged ideas and prejudices of our young people; something they had possibly never questioned.

“It has given them a view of the police that they would not have considered before and broadened their thought processes.

“A perfect example was a discussion that started with a video clip of a young girl hitting a young man, some of the group laughed but others took offence and questioned why there is a difference in reaction when the victim is a man and not a woman.

“This shows that the workshops and the discussions in general are starting to resonate with the young people and they are questioning right from wrong and ultimately challenging their peers.

“A difficult skill for mature adults let alone 15 and 16 year olds.”

Bullying

Bullying was also high on the agenda for many of the young people.

“It is evident that there is now many new ways that bullying can be carried out,” said Dan.

“Quite a few of the young people in the workshop have either been bullied or been the one doing the bullying.

“The session made them look inward and challenge their own behaviours and reasons behind them.

“Reflection is something that the workshops have definitely helped with and ‘planted the seed’. We welcome more future input from the youth commission.”

Code of conduct

One of the topics discussed during the meeting was creating a code of conduct to guide Sussex Police.

One suggestion was for each police station to have a number of police officers who were ‘young people friendly’ – meaning they had special training to work with young adults.

Members also felt young people should deliver part of the training.

One teenager said: “I would love to be part of a programme to help train the police to work with young people, I would really love to do that. That would be great.”

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