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In the news - Alan Nevin

Alan, aka PC Nevin, is a 37-year-old teacher turned police officer. After seven years at the chalkface in Birmingham's primary schools he moved to the streets. He has worked for West Midlands Police for six years and is the man behind Birmingham's new educational resource, My Life, My Choice, a film and series of lessons to combat gang culture and youth crime. We caught up with the bobby on the beat, to see what it is all about.

What was behind your choice to hit the beat?

I taught in three primaries before joining the police force. Through my teaching career I taught in inner-city schools and saw the wider issues affecting young children and their education development. It was a lot to do with the external community - drugs and family life at home. I wanted to get involved and have more of a positive influence, which was when I changed career.

So it wasn't to get away from the paperwork?

No, although the amount of paperwork in both professions is very similar. With the police, the paperwork must be completed concisely and accurately - it is more important as it is of evidential value. Becoming a police officer was a complete change. You go from teaching where you plan and know exactly what you're going to do in the classroom, and you have control. In policing, you have no control and don't know what's going to happen in the next 30 seconds.

Tell us about My Life, My Choice ...

We produced a 30-minute film as a result of a consultation with young people in Birmingham. It is to tackle issues of knife-carrying, weapons, gangs and peer pressure. What I like is that it is peer-led - young people have been involved from the start and have had a clear steer in identifying the problems and created the film script.

What do children know about lesson planning?

They have been designed to match the PSHE and citizenship curriculum. There are six to eight lessons for key stage 3 learning, to follow the film. We based it on a similar project in the London Metropolitan Police Force using the same concept but we made it bespoke for Birmingham. We have used local young actors, too.

Is gun and knife crime part of your everyday life?

Being faced with someone with a weapon is one of the toughest situations I find myself in. In some respects it is the same as teaching - you have to use communication to get the situation under control. It is about talking to people and engaging them - my teaching skills have helped in that respect.

Did you have the same problems as a kid?

No, there was not so much peer pressure to fit in, but today it is becoming harder and harder for young people to make their own choices. We want to give people self-esteem. There is a lot of pressure on wearing the latest trainers and the latest clothes. We are trying to highlight the negative influence gang culture has on young people, their friends, their family, their neighbours and their community.

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