The relationship between young people and the police and online safety are just two of the priorities that North Yorkshire Police have pledged to tackle in a new Children and Young People strategy, launched this week.
The strategy was developed on the back of recommendations made by the North Yorkshire Youth Commission, as well as the opinions of more than 1500 young people who took part in the Youth Commission’s first “Big Conversation” – a piece of peer research into issues that affect children and young people across the county.
As well as the relationship with the police and online safety, the other key issues addressed in the strategy include: how the police deal with young people with mental health problems, sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, hate crime and missing young people and exploitation.
Speaking about the launch of the strategy, Inspector Sarah Sanderson of North Yorkshire Police’s Partnership Hub said:
“We want young people in North Yorkshire to know that we are their police force, we are there for them, and we take the concerns of children and young people as seriously as those of adults. We already work alongside young people in lots of positive ways – you only have to look at things like the Lifestyle Awards or the Crucial Crew programme to see that – but these are special projects. It’s important that our core service works for young people too. For this strategy we have really taken a lead from young people themselves, and looked at ways we can improve based on their views and experiences.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, set up the North Yorkshire Youth Commission, and is instrumental in making sure it has a powerful voice within the police service. She said:
“I set up the Youth Commission because I want young people to be able to support and challenge the work of the police. The work that has gone into this new strategy shows that young people do have a different perspective, which deserves to be heard and acted on. With the strategy now in place, I will be looking to North Yorkshire Police to deliver on the recommendations, and truly provide a service that is accessible and effective for younger people.”
Helen Waller is a member of the North Yorkshire Youth Commission, and one of the young people who helped shape the strategy. She said:
“The Youth Commission is a really important way for us as young people to not only advise front-line police work but to hold those at the top accountable. We’ve been talking to thousands of other young people across the county to make sure all of us, including the most marginalised groups, are heard. Additionally, meeting with all sorts of members of the force has reassured me that the intent to improve relations with young people is there and I’m excited to see how the strategy developed from our work will be implemented.”