Young people in Derbyshire have made it clear to Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles that when it comes to crime they have their own views.
Discussions held over the last few months with 189 young people in a wide range of forums and groups across the city and county found that the majority had negative perceptions of the police. However, many of the same group who expressed these views had positive feedback about their actual experience with their local PCSOs and of being held in custody. A clear distinction was often made between PCSOs and what young people term ‘proper’ police.
Key findings included:
· Nearly a third (31%) would only report what they perceived as a ‘serious’ offence
· A quarter (25%) would not report because of fear or the risk of bullying
· Many younger people were not clear how to report crime, especially non-emergency or persistent or petty crime. Most were not aware of the 101 service, and many said they would prefer to report via a text or online service.
· Many appeared to lack the confidence that they would be taken seriously and some gave specific examples when they felt they had not been taken seriously.
· Hate, bullying and internet or cyber-crimes were frequently raised within the sessions as issues of concern, but those consulted did not know of any specific means or service of how to report it.
When informed about 101 and its small charge, most appeared to dismiss it as a preferred means for reporting non-serious crime. Many of those consulted said they would prefer to report via a text or online service. There was also strong evidence that those from the Deaf Community often felt ignored or not catered for appropriately when considering education and the means of reporting crime.
When asked if there was anything they thought the police service could improve, 44% mentioned they would like the police not to be judgemental of young people and/or to have more trust in them. Over a third (37%) suggested more presence and patrols on the streets, and a third suggested informative sessions and education. Nearly a fifth (19%) mentioned tackling and reducing alcohol related crime.
The commissioner commented: “I am very grateful to those who took part in these discussions. Their views have helped us to ask the right questions in a wider survey, putting us on track for pinpointing the issues that are important to our young people. I believe the findings will help us to build better relationships between younger members of our communities, resulting less crime and anti-social behaviour.
The commissioner’s youth engagement plan has a stream of events aiming to raise the profile of issues identified by young people themselves. Among the many events will be one at Police HQ led by Mr Charles and the Constabulary on 5 June. “The support of our partner agencies, youth agencies, charities youth councils and other local networks will be very important at these events,” the Commissioner said.
“In the coming months, we will be consulting with the Constabulary, partner agencies and Community Safety Partnerships to help identify current education and diversionary activities that support and inform young people. This will also help us to recognise any gaps that need to be filled.”