Slam Dunk Success for Colchester’s Community Policing Team
Main article content
Over the summer, police officers from Colchester’s Community Policing Team, joined forces once again with pro basketball team – The Essex Rebels - to offer free basketball sessions for young people in Colchester.
The scheme, known as ‘Ballin’ with a Bobby’ was set up by Colchester’s Community Safety and Engagement Police Officer, PC Dex Adams, who wanted to create an environment where young people could meet their local police officers and, if they wanted to, talk to them about things that might be causing them concern or ask them generally about policing in their community.
“These sessions weren’t about lecturing the young people or telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing,” said PC Dex Adams. “It’s about building trust and a positive relationship with the younger members of our community and encouraging them to make the right choices. “We know that young people, a lot of the time, are reluctant to engage with the police, whether that’s because they’re worried about what their friends might say, because of what they’ve been told by others, because they’ve seen something on social media or simply because they’re not interested. “But young people’s opinions and how they feel about crime in their community is just as important as any other member of our community and it should help shape our approach to community policing.”
Following the success of last year’s ‘Ballin’ with a Bobby’ scheme, PC Adams once again enlisted the help of the University of Essex and their professional basketball team – The Essex Rebels, who were happy to lend their time and skills for free.
The summer saw the Colchester Community Policing Team and The Essex Rebels host four free hour-long basketball sessions for young people aged between five and 18 in Greenstead, West Mersea, Wivenhoe and Old Heath Recreation Ground.
“We’d end up chatting about all sorts during the training sessions.” said PC Adams “If they wanted to, we’d talk about antisocial behaviour, County Lines, hate crime, the risks and dangers of getting involved in criminality and what to do if they found themselves involved in crime. “But most importantly we’d listen to what the young people had to say and what they thought we could do to help them.”
More than 70 young people took part in the ‘Ballin’ with a Bobby’ sessions and through Basketball England’s Project Swish, the team were able to improve local facilities by getting broken hoops and nets replaced.
One of those who took part was 11-year-old, Josh, who also attended last year's sessions too.
“It’s cool seeing police officers play basketball,” said Josh. “It shows I have something in common with them and that they are human like all of us. I loved learning the new skills that the Essex Rebels have been teaching me. “Getting to know my local police officers is great as I now feel I can say ‘hi’ to them when I see them on the street. They have even put a new net up at my local court, so it is better when I go and play there. “I hope they do it again next year as I can't wait"