October 22nd, 2010

Young People and the Police

We had a great detached session last night. We couldn’t run club as usual due to the centre being used as a polling station for the local mayors election. So we hung out on the football pitch instead. Its interesting how much a change of context can change the dynamics of our interactions with the young people. We had some great conversations as we chilled together (literally as well as figuratively!!!) by the side of the pitch. We weren’t distracted by managing behaviour or monitoring the use of the building and its facilities. And there was less of a power inequality – we werent in authority over the young people in the same way as we are inside as we were on their turf which they themselves alluded to.

One of the conversations I had with two girls was about their relationship with the police. One of them was saying that she would be too scared to go to the police about anything. The other one had had experience of reporting two fairly serious incidents to the police and giving statements and she confirmed that it was quite intimidating as it was very formal. No action was taken as a result of either of her reports which has made her feel that reporting stuff to the police is pointless and they don’t do anything.

This has got me thinking about about the relationship between young people and the police. If what I heard from these two girls is representative of other young peoples experience then perhaps there is a need for more young-people-friendly ways of reporting crime and better explanations of the process and management of expectations. I also wonder what the impact will be of having even less police on the streets as a result of recent cuts which will surely increase the separation between police and the community and intimidation felt by young people in reporting crime. Its seems vital to me that young people see wrong doing being taken seriously and having consequences if we want them to make good choices themselves.