Young community activists have opened up about the innovative work they are undertaking to help raise awareness of knife crime and stop and search among their peers in a series of new videos.
Members of Nottinghamshire’s Youth Commission have spoken candidly about the workshops they have designed to find out young people’s opinions on urgent priorities including knife crime, stop and search and exploitation and abuse.
The videos coincide with the launch of the organisation’s 2020 Annual Report which reveals the views and opinions of more than 2,000 young people across Nottinghamshire.
The Youth Commission was launched in 2015 by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping, in conjunction with social enterprise firm Leaders Unlocked, to give young people across the county a stronger voice when it comes to issues of policing and safety.
Since then, the organisation has engaged with more than 7,600 young people to lift the lid on the issues that matter to young people and strengthen the relationship between police and Nottinghamshire’s youth.
Youth Commission members have taken on an increasing level of responsibility, sitting on interview panels to recruit senior officers including the Chief Constable and Schools and Early Intervention Officers and being part of police scrutiny meetings on stop and search.
One of the videos features Kelese Hyacinth, 29, who joined the Youth Commission four years ago while in her first year at university and has since been recruited as an Assistant Project Coordinator.
“I wanted to be part of an organisation that allows young people to voice their opinions on issues that are happening in their community, especially young people from the BAME community as I believe it’s really important we get more of these young people involved in work and projects like this,” she said.
“Most recently I have been heavily involved in a knife crime film. It was an amazing opportunity and I was able to meet many young people from across Nottinghamshire and hear their stories on how knife crime has had an effect on not only them but also their friends, their families and also the community.
“We have been in different schools, colleges, youth organisations and the Youth Offending Team. We have spoken to over 2,000 young people and have been able to gather their views on issues that are happening in their areas.
“I think the Nottinghamshire Youth Commission is an amazing opportunity for young people to be a part of as it gives young people that platform to have their voices heard and make that change in making their community and Nottinghamshire a safer place.”
In another video, Youth Commission member Owen Brindley, 21, from Nottingham, talked about how the organisation was helping to reach those with a disability.
“I have a disability and it has been a challenging time for me but being able to achieve something is incredible,” he said.
“It has changed me a lot, building my energy and skills and my confidence to share my ideas and hear people’s voices. This is the important thing, hearing what other people have to say, if they don’t feel safe or if they are struggling.
“The Youth Commission helped me and I want to find out how I can help others.”
Katherine Tremayne, 22, who has been a member of the Commission for five years, added: “In recent years I’ve done a lot on stop and search and a lot of workshops with young people trying to educate them on how an officer will do a stop and search and how they should conduct a stop and search.
“I’ve also done a lot of work on knife crime, trying to educate young people on the laws of knife crime and the misconceptions of knife crime and what people think is right that is actually wrong. The Youth Commission is really important, especially now when young people need to take a stand for things such as knife crime.”
Congratulating the team, Paddy Tipping said: “The Youth Commission has worked incredibly hard over the past year, collecting the views of thousands of young people and taking action on the issues that impact their safety.
“In the face of a global health crisis, the team has continually adapted the way it works to host online workshops and virtual sessions to maintain these important conversations and I cannot thank them enough.
“The 2020 report gives us an insight into how we need to improve to reach more young people and the vital messages we need to deliver to ensure young people fully understand the law and feel supported. The team has exciting ideas for the future and I think we could really learn something from their approach to problems and solutions.”
Gabrielle Jones, Project Manager, added: “The Youth Commission has continued to make an impact during one of the toughest years we’ve faced. The young people we work with have risen to the challenge of engaging with young people through virtual workshops. I am always so impressed with the reach the youth commission has with young people and their dedication of making a change no matter what comes their way.”
The Youth Commission has 33 active members aged between 14 and 25 from a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
During its 2019-2020 Big Conversation roadshow, members interacted with 2,600 young people to gauge their opinions on urgent issues including knife crime, stop and search and exploitation.
The members designed interactive workshops to gather responses as well as online surveys and postcards.
The results revealed young people still felt unsure of the law and consequences of carrying a knife and said loopholes relating to blade length created confusion. They also called for more knife amnesties and more advice on how to report knife crime anonymously to the police without getting into trouble.
The findings in relation to stop and search suggest young people still feel there is a lack of trust between themselves and the police and would like to see a greater police presence on social media to inform young people about the laws and their rights.
The Youth Commission has now set out a series of recommendations including the need for more social media campaigns on young people’s rights when stopped and searched and more police representatives within schools delivering sessions on their rights.
They have also called for joint workshops between the Police and the Youth Commission to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime and the commissioning of advertising to explain the dangers of knife crime within the community and online.
The Nottinghamshire Youth Commission’s Annual Report 2019/2020 can be downloaded here:
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Monday 28th December 2020