Police and young Cumbrians work together to tackle youth crime issues

Police leaders in Cumbria have created a platform for local young people to engage peers in identifying youth policing priorities.

Name Cumbria Youth Commission

Provider Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and Cumbria Police

Cumbria Youth Commission was established in April 2017 in response to calls by Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Peter McCall to give young people a greater say in shaping services.

The commission aims to enable young Cumbrians aged 14 to 25 to inform decisions about policing and crime prevention.

Voluntary group Young Cumbria, a support organisation that provides advice and development support services to voluntary groups, supported young people in the commission to discuss issues important to them.

Out of these discussions came a range of recommendations on the first-year priorities. These included hate crime, bullying, mental health and underage drinking.

To engage young people with the commission, Cumbria Youth initially delivered an introductory presentation in 33 schools, colleges, education providers and youth services across the county. From this, 32 young commissioners under the age of 25 were recruited.

After identifying the four priority issues, 26 of the commissioners were trained as researchers. They designed and implemented questionnaires to explore each of the key issues.

Initial analysis of the questionnaires showed that generally young people did not know where to go for advice and support about the key issues identified.

Therefore, the commission evaluated how accessible services were to young people, which provided the catalyst for the Cumbria Youth Commission Directory, a directory of "young person friendly" services.

Other findings to come out of the research included:

  • 80 per cent of respondents had witnessed a hate crime
  • More than half did not know how to support a friend with a mental health issue
  • Nearly a fifth were unable to provide a definition of bullying
  • 54 per cent drank for the first time between the ages of 13 and 14

Addressing these issues became the priority for the PCC and Young Cumbria and led to the creation of three key recommendations for each of the four priority areas.

The commission made recommendations to Cumbria Police on how its website should be updated to reach young people more effectively, which have been applied in 2018.

The young commissioners will be working with Cumbria's Community Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service (CADAS) to review and advise on the development of the CADAS website to assess how accessible and appropriate it is for young people who need the information. The commission will also advise and work with CADAS to find the best means of communication to reach young people.

The young commissioners assisted with the implementation of these, aided by McColl, including them in various decision-making processes along the way. For example, three of the commissioners were recruited onto the panel that decides the outcome of grants from the Property Fund, which comes from the proceeds of crime.

For the second year of the initiative, the young people involved have recommended drink driving, abusive relationships, child exploitation and new psychoactive substances as key priorities to focus on.

Our Views: Young people on the commission

Becky Askew, aged 17: "I've found that the commission has really helped in developing not only my knowledge of crime and how it affects young people but also my confidence in speaking with others and giving formal presentations. I hope the work myself and my peers have done will greatly benefit young people."

William Burns, aged 15: "Being on the commission has helped me build my confidence of speaking to new people and building up knowledge on crime and subjects we have chosen as a team. It has also allowed my voice to be heard by others."

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