A youth think-tank set up to examine policing and crime in Nottinghamshire today unveiled the full findings of its four-month research project.
The Nottinghamshire Youth Commission interviewed over 1,000 young people to unearth the policing issues of most concern and find out what feel will improve matters.
Top findings included a concern that drugs and alcohol were too accessible to young people, and a common view within universities that students were consuming too much alcohol which is too easy to access in large quantities, alongside fears raised around sexual harassment, particularly among young women. Many female students admitted to receiving a lot of unwanted attention and while the research also highlighted that young men were also the victim of sexual harassment, it was noted that they were reluctant to report their experiences to the police.
Commenting on the research, Gabrielle Jones, Youth Commission member, said: “Never before has such a large group of young people in Nottinghamshire been invited to talk frankly and openly about what worries them about crime and how local police can improve their relationship with the younger generation.
“Young people need to feel that are being listened to and that their opinions valued. This is why the Youth Commission has been so successful because it has been built around young people communicating with other young people. This has led many of the participants to be less guarded about their feedback and more willing to give a true picture of their feelings.”
The Youth Commission’s work concentrated on six key areas: drugs, alcohol and sexual harassment; relationship with the police; stop and search; crime prevention and education; the link between crime and poverty and re-offending and rehabilitation.
During the engagement work, the Youth Commission received a significant amount of positive feedback on the job local police were doing to keep crime low, particularly in light of the recent funding cuts. One respondent said of local police: “I think that the police are doing a great job keeping the crime rate low.” In addition, a number of interviewees recognised the positive work that had taken place to achieve greater proportionality in the use of stop and search powers.
However, many felt there was a lack of positive opportunities for young people to interact with police and the only time that the two met one another was in a negative situation such as being moved on from a public place. This was something they wanted to change. There was also wide agreement that more work was needed to educate people on their rights during a stop and search, especially in deprived and high-crime areas, and where to go to make a complaint if necessary. Young people also called for greater sensitivity among officers conducting searches.
As a result of the findings, Supt Paul Burrows, Force lead on stop and search, has invited members of the Commission to attend the Stop and Search Scrutiny Board and also to have a formal discussion over the research findings. Members have also been invited to join officers on patrol to see the powers used in action.
The Youth Commissioner has been funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping in conjunction with social enterprise firm Leaders Unlocked.
Commenting on the report, Mr Tipping said: “The police cannot fight crime alone and they don’t know all the answers – this project demonstrates just how valuable young people can be as partners to help remove some of the misunderstandings that alienate the younger generation from police.
“The Big Conversation reached the very people caught in the offending cycle and those whose lives are driven by poverty which will help us to deliver the practical support necessary to give them a second chance.”
Supt Ted Antill of Nottinghamshire Police added: “When I attended the Youth Commission event on 21st March, I was struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of the young people there, for tackling the issues they had identified. The presentations were delivered in a mature way and with an honesty that was at times uncomfortable for me and police colleagues. However, it is exactly this honesty that will develop the trust that will be so essential to the success of this work. There was also a refreshing acknowledgement that the responsibility for providing solutions does not rest solely with the police, but that all present had a part to play.
“I have no doubt that real and sustainable change can be brought about as a result of this work.”
Read the full report at: http://www.nottinghamshire.pcc.police.uk/Get-Involved/Youth-Commission.aspx
Issued on behalf of the Nottinghamshire Youth Commission.
Interviews can be arranged. Please call Sallie Blair on 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Thursday 28th April 2016