Highlighting the interventions that make a difference
Partners working to tackle violent crime in Essex took the opportunity to sample some of the intervention programmes making a difference.
At the annual Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) conference, delegates from the emergency services and community organisations were able to learn more about the challenges facing the county, as well as take part in projects aimed at protecting the vulnerable and preventing violence.
During the Delivering through Partnerships event, there was the chance to try two hour-long sessions out of a choice of six.
Firebreak – Essex County Fire & Rescue Service
Delegates were taken through a tailored Firebreak intervention session, including drill practice, handling light equipment, learning how those going through the scheme are able to learn teamwork and gain self-worth.
Terry Williams, watch manager at Fire HQ, said: “We have been showing delegates what the course involves and telling them about the type of students we work with and what is expected from the course with regards to discipline. It is all practical, visual learning with a focus on teamwork and confidence-building.
“We have been meeting people today who we have engaged with in the past and they have been telling us how young people have progressed since the course. It’s also been great to meet new people and to consider how we might work together.”
Raptor Team Gangs Operation – Essex Police
Operation Raptor is an Essex Police response to preventing and disrupting violent street gangs. The team took delegates through a real-life operation involving a drug gang in the county and showed a Sky News report focusing on a London gang preying on, grooming and recruiting children to carry drugs across County Lines into Essex.
Sgt Scott Fitzmaurice said: “County Lines has been around since the 1970s, but now it is a hot topic. “Our awareness of it has always been there, but not everyone completely understands what it is and the work we do. This is an opportunity to show what we are doing and how we are doing it.
“It’s about making sure other agencies know we are here as they might well have a piece of the puzzle we are missing.”
Colchester United Unite our Communities taster session
Stepping into the shoes of a service user, delegates were able to sample the diversionary sessions put on by the football club.
They took part in a blindfold assault course, a scavenger hunt to bring clues and statements together around knife crime and the United Against Knife Crime programme, and a mini handball match where some teams were given a secret handicap.
Tom Tayler, community development manager at Colchester United, said: “We wanted to take people out of their comfort zones like we do with our young people. It’s an opportunity for us to show off what we do; we are more than just a charity that runs football sessions.
“It’s a good chance to make new connections. We are always open to working with partners or adding value to projects which are already out there. We are all here for the same reasons; it’s about looking at how we can work together.”
Southend Combat Academy Sessions
Southend Combat Academy’s early intervention programme engages with difficult adolescents, particularly those who have offended, are at risk of offending and are involved in antisocial behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse. Along with combat training, the course delivers supervision and discussion around peer pressure and the consequences of risk-taking behaviour and violence. Each participant signs up to a code of conduct stipulating acceptable behaviour.
Simon Dempsey, head coach at Southend Combat Academy, said: “I wanted to say thank you in person, face to face, to the PFCC for the funding which enables us to run the programme. But, this is also an opportunity to network with the police service a bit more.”
AlterEgo Theatre Workshop
An impactful, engaging and informative drama piece on the dangers of criminal exploitation, gangs and County Lines raised awareness to delegates. AlterEgo is a creative theatre company commissioned by Essex Youth Service with the support of PFCC funding to deliver the message to Year 9 and 10 students.
Performer Oliver Franks said: “We have been able to show people in education the things we offer for schools who feel they may need more awareness.
“We focus on social issues, such as hate crime, knife crime and sexual exploitation. It’s about starting the conversation and making sure children are aware of the issues which are going on around them.”
Designing Out Crime – data driven interventions
With Essex about to undergo one of the biggest housebuilding programmes in generations – 180,000 new homes by 2036 with 400,000 new residents – the decisions made in planning now will have an impact for decades to come.
The session allowed delegates to be in the position of a Designing Out Crime Advisor where they were invited to look at real examples of planning within Essex. In groups, they were then asked to identify what they thought were potential crime generators from the drawings. Delegates were then asked to apply the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to identify designing out crime solutions aimed at reducing crime for future generations.
Heather Gurden, Strategic Designing Out Crime Manager at Essex Police, said: “It was a an enjoyable and informative event that presented Essex Police with a wonderful opportunity to showcase the role of the Designing out Crime Officer. We were delighted with the genuine amount of interest, participation and response during the workshop sessions.”