THE Staffordshire Youth Commission is toasting its first year of success – with the promise of more to come.
In the Commission’s report, top of the agenda was tackling knife and gang crime, cyber bullying, drug/alcohol abuse and educating youngsters about police work.
The Youth Commission was set up in September 2016, thanks to funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Staffordshire.
Instigated to help young people (aged 14-25), it’s aim was to identify the main issues facing their demographic, but also influence decisions about policing and crime prevention in their local area, while working closely with the PCC.
The project not only represented a new approach to engaging with youngsters to help shape future policing, but its findings offered a revealing insight into the issues faced by Millennials.
Speaking to more than 1500 young people, the Youth Commission engaged students in secondary and further education, police cadets, people from LGBT backgrounds and young people involved with youth groups and community outreach schemes.
Matthew Ellis, Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, hopes the collaboration between the PCC and the Youth Commission will continue to make great strides in 2018 and beyond.
‘The Staffordshire Youth Commission is a seriously impressive group of young people and I was blown away by their insight and ideas.
‘I commissioned this group to get a feel for the issues that impact most on our young generation, but to also involve them in the work to improve the criminal justice system and shape Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent’s policing.
‘One year on and our work together has been extremely successful and invaluable to how we work in the future – we’ve all learned a lot about the issues affecting Staffordshire. I look forward to even more progress in 2018.
‘We’ve now had the report and the OPCC is investing 10,000 to ensure the main issues raised are acted upon. It’s wonderful to see the youngsters of Staffordshire really making the time and effort to improve their own county.
‘Young people are the best people to speak to young people so long may the Commission continue its excellent and rewarding work.’
Cyber-bullying was identified as one of the biggest challenges for youngsters, with a recommendation the PCC creates tailored information packs for schools, organisations and parents, along with a list of support services to help victims.
Hate crime and Islamophobia was also picked out as a major issue – with young people highlighting that many people associate terrorism with religion, with fear and hate fuelled by incorrect stereotypes and associations.
Improved communication and publicising hate crime were put forward as recommendations, with events being organised to help educate people of all generations to encourage a tolerance of religion, sexuality and disability.
The Youth Commission will be actively involved in community events to encourage people to discuss fears and anxieties.
Regarding drug and alcohol abuse, the Youth Commission recommended building a closer relationship with pubs and clubs, with greater police presence in areas of concerns.
There was also a call for the PCC to encourage youth groups, schools and organisations to take part in educational sessions.
Likewise, knife and gang crime are still prevalent. The Youth Commission suggested support was offered to victims, with peer mentors being developed to act as a deterrent to potential offenders.
And overall, there was a recommendation the PCC and Youth Commission do more to educate and rehabilitate offenders of all crimes, and also help employers understand DBS findings so they can make educated decisions based on individual’s risk of reoffending.
There were also calls for the police to improve communications with young people by attending youth events and becoming more involved in community activities.