What's my job... Police youth strategy manager

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Young people are undervalued, a hugely underused community resource and often misunderstood.

In Essex, we are developing a youth strategy to improve the interaction between the police and all young people.

I go into schools and youth groups to talk about what we are trying to achieve, and ask young people what they want.

We have a youth forum, where 70 young people from across the county have volunteered to meet once a month to share experiences and ideas. They came to us with issues such as safety in their areas, police stop and search powers and anti-social behaviour, not because they are worried about ASBOs, but because they were victims of anti-social behaviour too.

They are most concerned about the public perceptions of young people and the way they are portrayed in the media. And we need to change the image children and young people have of the police service .

The biggest headache with the strategy is trying to fit in the police agenda with everyone else's. A high proportion of concerns about young people at risk are identified after police involvement.

I also have a national role, assisting with and writing guidance on youth issues. I'm police adviser on the information sharing index which will enable different professionals working with children to share data more effectively.

I work a day a week at the Youth Justice Board revising the final warning scheme which replaced police cautioning for young people about six years ago. We recognise that 70 per cent of young people don't reoffend after a police caution and they shouldn't necessarily be given a criminal record.

Often, kids come to us with issues about how they are treated by the police, but I have never had a problem discussing such issues. I try to help them understand that it's about two-way communication.

It is not unusual for my working day to be 7am to 10pm, occasionally six or seven days a week. The highlight of the week is getting to see my own kids.

Ian Carter was talking to Diane Hofkins

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