The results of a groundbreaking three-year study into young people’s attitudes to crime and policing have been revealed.
The three-year interactive study sets a new precedent for communication between the police and young people within Greater Manchester and has focused on key themes such as young people’s attitudes towards anti-social behaviour, how police handle complaints, how these young people view the police, and how all of those attitudes changed as the study group grew older.
Now the results are being outlined at a special conference for young people on Thursday 27 March at the Factory Youth Zone, Rochdale Road, Harpurhey, Manchester.
Staff from Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd’s office have spent the last three years delivering ‘interactive workshops’ for pupils from across Greater Manchester. These workshops have included practical lessons on crime scene investigations, staged examples of allegations of domestic violence in the household and interviews with experts from numerous units across Greater Manchester Police on how they perform their duty.
Tony Lloyd said:
“This important study shows that police and, indeed, everyone involved in building safer communities, still have a lot of work to do to engage effectively with young people.
“It’s important that police and other agencies don’t just hear young people’s views on policing but actually listen to them and respond effectively. Young people are our future and we have a responsibility to ensure they are involved in building safer neighbourhoods because they have a real role to play. Young people sometimes get a bad reputation for causing trouble, but the reality is that most of them have a real contribution to make – and they want to. It’s also worth remembering that young people are often victims of crime themselves.
“This study represents a significant step towards improving understanding and building community cohesion.”
All pupils involved were also invited to answer 25 questions specific to their trust in the police on a range of issues, from how they treat allegations of crime to interaction and engagement with younger members of the community. Identical questions were asked to the same pupils every year, to provide GMP with a detailed insight into how their views evolved over the course of the study. Key questions being asked included ‘Do you feel you can rely on the police in your area?’, ‘Do you think ASBO’s reduce anti-social behaviour’ and ‘Would you feel comfortable reporting a crime to the police?’
Throughout the course of the three years, the results indicated that trust in the police appears to decline as pupils grow older. Where the question ‘Do you feel you can rely on the police in your area’ was raised, initially 52% of pupils agreed. Three years later, only 39% of the same pupils did.
Likewise, in response to the question ‘Do you feel the police in your area listen to young people?’ there was a 13% decline across the course of the study.
But it wasn’t all bad news. In response to the question ‘If you weren’t happy with something the police did, would you make a complaint?’, there was a notable 6% increase across the length of the study – with many pupils highlighting they were far less fearful of the police as a result of their involvement within the school.
The full findings will be unveiled on Thursday at a special conference involving 130 schoolchildren from across Greater Manchester. Children involved in the study will present the results themselves through presentations, poems and even a rap. All of the results obtained will then be consolidated into a report and submitted to the Police and Crime Commissioner for review.
Barry Mizen of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation will also be in attendance talking frankly and openly about the challenges that still remain for the police in how they look to engage with young people, following the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of his son Jimmy in 2008.
Barry and his wife Margaret set up the Foundation in their son’s memory to outline the catastrophic effects of violence and encourage young people to make a positive contribution to their communities.
It was just a day after Jimmy’s 16th birthday when he was attacked and murdered by a 19-year-old man who had a string of convictions for robbery and violence.
Mr Mizen said:
“If we want to build safer and more peaceful communities and bring sustainable long term change, then that starts with each and every one of us. It is not someone else’s problem to solve it is ours.
The Jimmy Mizen Foundation seeks to promote the good in our young people, and to build community relationships, of which a key part is the fundamental relationship between young people and the police.”
ACC Garry Shewan who attended the conference on behalf of GMP added:
“This innovative study has allowed us to gauge the perception that young people have of the police and highlights areas to be improved.
“This is a positive step towards engaging with the youth of our communities and understanding what we can actively do to build a trusting and positive relationship between young people and the police.”