At a glance: Young people becoming adults
- Sensitive, relevant and effective policing that inspires our young people to become law-abiding, productive members of society
- The Constabulary must see itself through the eyes of a child or young person and to earn their trust and support
- Officers must understand the impact their interaction may have on the developing mind of a young person
- A commitment to the creation of a ‘Child friendly county’ where the voices of all children are heard and the needs of all children are met because a child has a right to enjoy childhood and safety
- Continued support of the Volunteer Police and Treasure Seeker Cadets and their vital ambassadorial role in vulnerable areas of society that are traditionally difficult to access and influence by adults and policing
- Recognition that our children are our greatest assets and we must do all that we can to prevent a ‘lost generation’ post Covid.
In depth: Young people becoming adults
Implicit in this priority is delivering sensitive, relevant and effective policing that inspires our young people to become law-abiding, productive members of society and to ensure that the ‘system’ works for them, not against them. Therefore, my challenge to the Constabulary is to see itself through the eyes of a child or young person and to earn their trust and support.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful events occurring in childhood that directly affect a child (eg child maltreatment) or affect the environment in which they live (eg domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness in their families). Gloucestershire Constabulary has led the way in focusing on and understanding ACEs and has driven a partnership approach to support young people in Gloucestershire. Their voices must be heard and their needs supported.
To have any chance of this, it is vital that officers understand the impact their interaction may have on the developing mind of a young person, whether for better or for worse. They must understand we only have one chance to make a first impression. Respect is a two way street – hard to win, easier to lose.
The prospects for our young people in a post-Covid future are a major concern. Many experts fear for the mental health of our young people, particularly those who are vulnerable, as a result of the lockdown, the closure of schools and youth organisations and the impact that the death of relatives or seeing ill health has.
The long lasting effects of the pandemic will mean the Chief Constable will have to adapt how his School Beat teams operate. I am, however, greatly encouraged by the successes of the ‘Children First’ approach, which has resulted in a huge reduction in re-offending. Criminalising young people over trivial offences helps no-one whereas ‘Children First’ has diverted many away from a life of crime and resulted in much greater victim satisfaction. I will ask the Constabulary to continue to build on this success over the next 18 months and, at the same time, the Commissioner’s Fund will continue to support youth organisations in our local communities.