Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Kathryn Holloway, is calling on teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 to help create the Bedfordshire Youth Council (BYC) and become an influencer in focus groups.
The aim of the BYC is to encourage local young people to have their say on how to improve the quality of policing and to improve trust and reassurance within communities. The group will give Bedfordshire Police advice on issues that affect young people, for example, gang, knife and gun crime. They will also consult with police on plans that might impact on youth culture, offering a new way in which to make a difference to how young communities are policed.
“The problem has traditionally been that organisations too often put in place plans affecting young people that they think will work rather than allowing them to have a voice themselves. It’s never been more important to have the input of teenagers in policing because the social media they use to connect and share information is changing all the time. Just look at Facebook, it’s something their parents and grandparents use and they can’t be reached through television news because fewer and fewer young people watch tv programmes at set times at all, streaming the material they want to watch when they want to watch it instead,” said the Commissioner.
“I don’t just want to reach young people who are already on side where confidence in police is concerned. I need those who have the opposite view too so we can understand why that is, and there’s something in joining the council and taking part in focus groups for them too: every college and almost every job requires a CV and testimonials; being involved in something like this is something to shout about,” she said.
BYC members will, initially, be between the ages of 13 and 17 and drawn from a broad range of backgrounds. The council will include those who may be at risk of entering the criminal justice system, ex-offenders and victims of crime or come from areas where youth violence is part of their everyday lives.
The council will offer Bedfordshire Police a continuous sounding board of those who may be most affected by crime and police intervention and will allow the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Force to fully hear the voices of young people across Bedfordshire.
The vision of the BYC is to allow young people to have the chance to:
· Speak directly with police officers and decision makers to “youth proof” policies, protocols and strategies.
· Provide advice to Bedfordshire Police to help monitor and improve the quality of the policing service being delivered and help them understand issues that affect young people.
· Build relationships between police, young people and communities.
· Be able to express their views openly and honestly.
· Raise the profile of young people within the community while improving their leadership skills.
OPCC Community Engagement Officer and Beds Youth Council Lead, Zoe Fraser explained “This is a fantastic opportunity for the young people of Bedfordshire to have their voices heard. We've already taken this concept to colleges around Bedford and we have had lots of interest. We are really looking forward to hearing what young people have to say about policing and what they would like to see happen in their towns and villages."
“Please get involved. It’s no good complaining about how police approach issues like knife carrying in your schools and colleges if you’re not prepared to speak up and tell them what you think would get the message across instead,” said PCC Holloway.
If you would be interested in joining Bedfordshire Youth Council, or for more information, visit the Beds Youth Council (BYC) page.