NYA says youth work training for police officers should be 'more systemic'

By Mathew Little

| 17 August 2012

The National Youth Agency (NYA) has called for police training in youth work skills to be "more systemic".

The NYA says police would benefit from using youth work skills to engage with young people. Credit: Arlen Connelly

NYA chief executive Fiona Blacke told CYP Now that the charity is planning discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers on how to make youth work training for police officers a more universal practice.

“I don’t think we’ve yet reached a position where it’s a strategic approach,” she said. “Largely because of localisation, it’s happening here and there.”

Blacke’s comments came as Rotherham Council announced that two police constables have qualified with the council to become youth workers.

The officers will work in partnership with the council’s youth services department and in youth centres throughout the area.

Christine Brodhurst-Brown, head of integrated youth support services with Rotherham Council said: “In order to deliver the best possible provision for young people in Rotherham all agencies need to work together effectively.

"These officers are blazing a trail in working with young people and should be congratulated on their achievement.”

The training took one year to complete and covered topics such as safeguarding, engagement, equality and diversity.

One of the officers, PC Jeannine Waller said: “Traditionally, much of police work with young people has focused on enforcement. Doing a youth work qualification has provided me with the tools to find solutions to the problems young people face and to concentrate on early intervention rather than criminalisation.”

Blacke said she wanted to see more teachers and nurses, as well as police officers, trained in youth work skills. “They understand some of the nature of adolescents, how to create a relationship with young people and the tensions of being an adolescent in 2012,” she said.

Blacke added that, by using youth work skills, police officers would have to revert to their statutory enforcement powers on fewer occasions. “It’s got to be a good thing,” she said.

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