knife crime

Bridging the Gap: Improving Communication Between Young People and the Police

Tash Bright No Comments

Sheffield Futures hosted a Festival of Debate event to discuss Bridging the Gap, improving communication between the police and young people in our city. The event looked at how can the police better communicate with young people, why wouldn’t a young person report a crime and what can be done to change that?

Following on from Sheffield Youth Cabinet’s knife crime consultations with young people, we wanted to start a discussion to see how we can work together for a better, safer Sheffield.

The group looked at community policing and how stronger links could be made between the police and young people. Feedback stated that “police should be aware of people’s mental health” and that when appropriate, “police should laugh with young people.”

The group felt that recruiting younger PCSOs would be beneficial and there should be a police presence in areas where it is lacking.

The group also discussed what areas are best to engage with young people and the wider community, what would work best for young people, that may not work for the wider community and whether communications needed to be improved with the whole community and not just young people.

They also looked at whether in a time of cuts, what alternatives might there be to improve police presence, including Neighbourhood Watch. Some young people felt that it was important to increase “early years school visits” to “reduce stigma of the police.”

The attendees were split into three groups and moved to three discussion areas, each group getting an opportunity to speak about the three identified themes. One theme was perceptions of the police in 2019.

Some of the young people said they “hate the police, they’re too quick to blame people who are non-white.”

“It’s not just colour, but also about what area you live in.”

“The police don’t go to areas where they don’t sell drugs, but they should go everywhere.”

“I see the police as a gang but they can keep people safe in some respects like abuse against children.”

One of the young people had a different experience with the police when they were with their Youth Justice Service worker. They described their experiences as positive.

The third discussion topic was online presence and what would work when trying to communicate with young people. The group said: “humorous videos, but not patronising ones” would be good and that it was okay for the police to “use all social media except Snapchat.”

“Communication doesn’t have to only be online, it should be face-to-face.”

“Police have a negative image and they need to work on how they’re perceived. Social media should help to humanise the police.”

One young person said “there is a perception of the police as being threatening.”

“There is a fine balance between uniform being for creating safety and enforcement.”

One said “there should be a guide to how to contact the police online, for young people.” “The police need to create a helpline which feels accessible to young people and is young people friendly.”

Young people fed back that their most used social media is Instagram, followed by Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp and finally Facebook.

Some believed that it would be appropriate for the police to use these channels and provide approachable and friendly content.

One young person said that it was important to “address online cyber crimes including selling drugs and methods for young people to pass on information.”

“Transparency is important and police posts could create get their messages out.”

The attendees then joined together with a Q&A session with the police. The group were joined by Superintendent Paul McCurry, Superintendent Melanie Palin and Sergeant Simon Kirkham to discuss some of the issues that were raised in the debates and discussions.

Young people challenged the police about racism in the police force and stated that the police had no presence in their communities. Sergeant Simon Kirkham offered to run sessions where the debate could be continued.

Sheffield Young Advisor Shuheb Miah said that conversation at the debate concluded that there was “ideological bias – police are proportionally from a white culture so they lean more towards their own culture without realising that others view them in a racist light.”

Shuheb continues, “The key issues were trust, faith and the effort to report to the police. Media portrayals create a typification of a certain criminal type which shapes the views the police have of offenders.”

Key issues from the debate include: “interaction and understanding, social exclusion/segregation and partiality (BME- 25% under 25 yrs)”

“United Nation convention of the rights of a child says: ‘Child’s state is a primary consideration in the context’ of them being vulnerable in juveniles justice.”

The Bridging the Gap debate attendees said that “999 police line isn’t very efficient when you’re in an emergency and waiting ‘on hold’ could become dangerous.” Solutions could include:
⁃ “Officers suggest an app is created that on use pinpoints location and creates an individual helpline with a member of the police who can help directly
⁃ Access to social media (Twitter) like the Facebook SY police page where surveillance can occur to monitor safety of online servers.
However… this runs the risk of a ‘surveillance society’ or the ‘Big Brother effect’ where protection conflicts with people’s private lives.”

Shuheb said that the group he was with spoke about the power that police held. One said: “They are bullies by making young people powerless and not listening to what they’ve to say in the wake of implementing justice.”

Others said: “If a good service is given by the police the this good experience will be disseminated to others who then share the positive experiences with the police which they will also expect to find if a situation arises with the police creating unity.”

“The people and their behaviour rather than the race should dictate the treatment.”

One said “When an act is committed it is the behaviour/situation that is to blame and has influenced this act.”

Some of the group felt that their communities would not attend a conversation with the police. “Communities not wanting to attend as an already negative/tainted reputation with the police and they have a lack of faith.”

Shuheb’s overall views of Bridging the Gap event:
🙂 The event helped address issues especially the BME community view
🙂 Issue focus meant that the senior members could not work closely with the groups/members who felt affected by the police processes that did not benefit them.

😞 The police are cyclical by focussing the same old issues again and again when aspects like racism exist and simply talking about them will not remove these ingrained biases.”

      

Official launch event: Project 0114, tackling child criminal exploitation

Sadie White No Comments

Last night marked the official launch of Project 0114 – the project to tackle child criminal exploitation and associated gun and knife crime across the city. Led by Sheffield Futures and delivered in partnership with organisations across the city, the project, is set up with Home Office funding through Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner.  Project delivery partners are Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, Broomhall Girls Group, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

Speaking at the event Dr Alan Billings said ‘When I speak to young people the message is clear that they’re most worried about stabbings nowadays, and that’s got to change.’

‘Criminal gangs are targeting younger people, encouraging them to get involved in criminality. Young people, looking for friendship, are drawn into the gang and through the simple task of carrying a package, may be taking the first steps towards criminal behaviour.’

‘We all need to work together in partnership to educate young people and offer early intervention to ensure they understand the risks and can make good decisions – if approached by organised crime gangs.’ he continued.

Project delivery partners running activities with young people at the event included The Corner, Unity Gym, Sheffield City Council, Broomhall Girls Group, My Life Project and Manor Castle Development Trust as well as Sheffield Futures charity partners GB Boxing who attended to run workshops with young people along with England Netball.

From June onwards, year seven pupils in secondary schools across the city, along with year six children in primary schools in targeted areas, will have six information and skills-based sessions focussed on preventing child criminal exploitation and exploring the effects of knife and gun crime. The series of sessions will be co-delivered by youth workers and specially trained young people in schools.

Young people will be provided with information about how they can seek support to move away from serious youth violence and to understand their rights and responsibilities in this area. This element will form a key strand of the new Violent Crime and Organised Criminality (VCOC) strategy in Sheffield.

A second strand to the programme will see youth work activities delivered for young people in targeted areas to provide safe spaces where they can benefit from the strengths and experience of delivery partners, learning new and inspiring arts, music, media and sports skills. The five areas of the city as identified in the VCOC strategy are Broomhall, North East Sheffield, Manor Castle/Arbourthorne, Burngreave/Pitsmoor and Lowedges.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures said, ‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city. And, in the areas we know are being targeted by criminals intent on exploiting our young people we hope to engage children in inspiring activities and at the same time offer safe spaces where young people can learn and thrive.’

New event! Bridging the gap: improving communication between the police and young people

Tash Bright No Comments

Thursday 30th May 2019

6-7pm at Sheffield Futures, Star House, 43 Division St, Sheffield, S1 4GE.

BOOK YOUR FREE PLACE

How can the police better communicate with young people?

Why wouldn’t a young person report a crime?

What can be done to change that?

Following on from Sheffield Youth Cabinet’s knife crime consultations with young people, we want to start a discussion to see how we can work together for a better, safer Sheffield.

In association with South Yorkshire Police.

For further information and our full programme visit www.festivalofdebate.com

Sheffield Youth Parliament members ask why young people are carrying knives

Sadie White No Comments

As part of an on-going consultation with young people, members of the Sheffield Youth Parliament, Khalil Richard, Jake Sutcliffe, Fozia Sultana and Shona Rooney visited three youth clubs in the city to kick of a consultation to find out more about why young people are carrying knives.

This comes in response to the spate of knife related anti-social behaviour seen across the city and nationwide. The Youth Parliament Members are campaigning for an end to knife crime.

Top reasons cited why young people feel they need to carry knives include self-defence, showing off, aggression towards others and reasons associated with being part of a criminal gang.

When asked about possible solutions to stop young people carrying knives themes such as a need for heightened multi-cultural police presence integrated within communities, tackling the sources of young people getting hold of knives, the role of education & skills in tackling the ‘no hope’ mentality, access to more safe spaces for young people getting them off the streets and public safety measures such as increased surveillance and street lighting were mooted.

Need for heightened multi-cultural police presence

Under this theme, making clear the consequences for carrying knives, culture change to raise confidence in reporting to the police, police presence at youth clubs, more police in schools and communities were discussed. It was felt important that the police in communities reflect the multi-cultural background and ethnicities of the communities being served and that officers were better integrated within communities including a role for plain clothed officers. Others felt strongly that the presence of youth workers or parents with a community focussed role would have more impact due to the negative relationship between the police and some communities.

Tackling the sources of young people getting hold of knives

A focus on licencing and the prevention of the selling of knives to underage people.

The role of education & skills in tackling the ‘no hope’ mentality

Getting to the root cause of the reasons why young people are drawn towards getting involved in gangs or anti-social behaviour that involves carrying knives was a key solution. The reasons why, being the prevailing ‘no hope’ culture, where young people feel there is no hope for their future and are therefore more vulnerable to being drawn into criminal gangs. Getting in front of at risk individuals with options and support for gaining education and skills through workshops in youth or community centres was discussed.

Access to safe spaces such as youth clubs

With funding for youth work being stripped back year on year as a result of austerity and its impact on local budgets, safe spaces and centres where young people can get off the streets and feel safe and supported to shape their futures are decreasing. More youth clubs and safe spaces were floated as essential to tackling the knife crime epidemic.

Increased public safety measures

Young people said they felt unsafe at night and that better lighting and surveillance in public areas could counter this. Also activities to counter the emergence of racism.

What next

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has been awarded over £500,000 of Home Office funding for a Sheffield partnership project led by Sheffield Futures focussed on tackling child criminal exploitation and associated knife and gun crime across the city.

The project named by young people consulted as ‘Project 0114’ will be delivered by Sheffield Futures in conjunction with delivery partners, Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, St Marks Church, Broomhill, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

Due to begin in January 2019, Project 0114 will include an education programme for all secondary school pupils across the city as well as year six pupils in primary schools in areas deemed to be most at risk. A second strand to the project will engage children aged 10-13 identified as at risk of grooming for gang involvement and serious violence with positive enrichment activities.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures comments, ‘We are really pleased to have been awarded the funding to deliver targeted activities to help children and young people vulnerable to criminal exploitation and associated serious violence across the city.’

‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city.’

 

Sheffield Futures awarded funding to tackle criminal exploitation of young people

Sadie White No Comments

South Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, has been awarded over £500,000 of Home Office funding for a Sheffield partnership project led by Sheffield Futures focussed on tackling child criminal exploitation and associated knife and gun crime across the city.

The project named by young people consulted as ‘Project 0114’ will be delivered by Sheffield Futures in conjunction with delivery partners, Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, St Marks Church, Broomhill, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).

Due to begin in January 2019, Project 0114 will include an education programme for all secondary school pupils across the city as well as year six pupils in primary schools in areas deemed to be most at risk. A second strand to the project will engage children aged 10-13 identified as at risk of grooming for gang involvement and serious violence with positive enrichment activities.

Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures comments, ‘We are really pleased to have been awarded the funding to deliver targeted activities to help children and young people vulnerable to criminal exploitation and associated serious violence across the city.’

‘Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city.’

Co-delivered by youth workers and specially trained young people and utilising a youth mentoring approach, the schools based programme will involve a series of information and skills based sessions focussed on preventing child criminal exploitation and the effects of knife and gun crime. Young people will be provided with information about how they can seek support to move away from serious youth violence and to understand their rights and responsibilities in this area.  This element will form a key strand of the new Violent Crime and Organised Criminality (VCOC) strategy in Sheffield.

The programme targeting children identified through evidence as at risk of being groomed for gang involvement and associated gun and knife crime will be delivered across 5 areas of the city: Broomhall, North East Sheffield, Manor Castle/Arbourthorne, Burngreave/Pitsmoor and Low Edges.

Focussed on arts, music, media or sport the engagement activities, in local communities, the project will pull on the strengths of delivery partners and will ensure strong safeguarding pathways for those identified as most at risk.

 

1

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.