Students join officers to learn about life in our force
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We’ve been talking with around 3,000 young people to give them an insight into policing, find out what makes them feel unsafe and discuss career options.
Together with the Dot Com charity, we’ve run a series of online sessions for 2,500 primary school pupils and 500 secondary students from more than 50 schools across Essex this week.
And it culminated in an open day at Essex Police HQ in Chelmsford where some students were invited to gain more of an insight into the work of our dogs, armed response and drones teams.
The online sessions ran four each day from Monday to Thursday and were designed to break down barriers and give young people the opportunity to find out what the police do and why.
We also wanted them to see that police officers are approachable and that, if they have a problem, they can talk to a police officer.
Chief Inspector Ian Hughes organised the sessions and Friday’s open day, which he said was a ‘celebration’ and an opportunity for some of the participants to see what some of our specialist teams do and ask more questions about policing in general.
“Each online session had the Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and police officers of all ranks covering topics such as knife crime, violence against women and girls, stop and search, county lines gangs and how to join policing. “But the main purpose was to give the young people access to police officers to ask whatever questions they want. And we had some excellent questions about online safety, the laws surrounding the use of BB guns and what to do if you are given cannabis edibles when trick or treating at Hallowe’en.”
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington says:
“We know that young people are some of the most victimised and most vulnerable people in our society and we need to protect them because they are our future. “If we look after them, and we have the support and confidence of young people in return, we know they are safer and we know our communities are safer. “Whether we are protecting them from domestic abuse or gang violence, or talking to them about carrying knives, if we invest in our young people – regardless of their background or aspirations – we know it’s better for them and it’s better for society. “So, I’m really proud we’ve been able to reach 3,000 young people, both in person and online, with their teachers and other partners this week. “We want to make sure they understand policing and that we understand their needs and what makes them fearful. Then we can all work together so young people can keep themselves safe and their parents, their guardians and their friends can also keep themselves safe which, of course, makes society safe. “There’s been lots of negative press around policing and, very often, young people only see the police when they are in crisis or conflict. “These events have been about building relationships where they can see the police do a whole lot more. I hope some of them want to join policing, I hope some of them just trust policing going forward. “It doesn’t matter what their background or ethnicity is, who they are and where they come from, policing is about having the trust and confidence of our communities and keeping them safe.”
Debbie Hanson, head teacher and proprietor of the Clarity Independent School in Sandon said the online sessions had inspired their pupils, who had posted ‘very good, challenging questions’.
“All pupils engaged, even children who would usually find this a challenge. “Such online workshops are an excellent idea for able children who may also have special needs, some of whom have previously held a negative perspective of the police, yet many of whom are now thinking of pursuing a career in the police force. “It was a wonderful community event."
And assistant headteacher and special educational needs co-ordinator Richard Clow said pupils had also enjoyed a good experience at Essex Police HQ today, Friday 16 June.
“It’s been very informative in a way that is appropriate for our pupils. The officers were very appreciative and accommodating of their needs and the sensory overload that some of them can have. “Our pupils were very engaged with Wednesday’s online forum and again today at police headquarters and have asked lots of questions. They have learnt a lot and gained a lot, too. “They’ve had the opportunity to find out how the police force works and to learn about the qualifications needed to apply to the force. “This has given them new career options which, perhaps, they hadn’t previously considered, at a time when they need make decisions as they are moving towards college education.”
We will be using the information gained from the sessions to inform our future policing activity.
Chief Inspector Hughes says:
“The sessions have given us some great insights into what is concerning young people in our communities. We’ll work with our partners to take this forward because, of course, it doesn’t all sit with policing. “This is so important because our young people are our next generation and we want to make sure they are supported to make good decisions and good choices. “We want to build their confidence and our communities’ confidence in policing. Our police officers and staff are here to make sure our communities stay safe. We are here to help people and to catch criminals.”
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