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Teenagers show they can ‘Be the Change’ at PCC Youth conference

YOUNG people showed they can “Be the Change” as they took part in the second annual youth conference hosted by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex.

Teenagers from across Essex – including representatives from various youth groups, the Harlow, Epping, Southend and Thurrock youth councils, the National Citizens Service and volunteer police and fire cadets – took part in the event at the Chelmsford City Football Club.

They were joined by 13 police officers (including 10 special constables) and partners from Show Racism the Red Card, Victim Support, the South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre amongst others, to discuss serious topics including hate crime, cyber bullying, interaction between young people and police, online grooming and consent in personal relationships.

The conference, which took place on Wednesday August 5th, aimed to ensure the views of young people were heard on these important topics but also allowed them to work with police and partners to find solutions and improve awareness and education in these areas.

The first part of the day saw youngsters using anonymous voting machines to provide feedback on issues including whether they feel safe, how they feel about police and whether they feel confident about reporting crime.

Two police officers took part in a role play around the use of stop and search which generated a lively debate about young people’s rights. The teenagers also fed back on how they felt their rights in this area could be better communicated to their peers.

The conference also focused on hate crime and, following an interactive presentation from Show Racism the Red Card, young people were set the task of creating key messages using any medium they chose including poems, raps, posters and campaign statements. These were all performed in front of the camera.
Amongst the innovative ideas which came from the young people around raising awareness of hate crime was a campaign idea called ‘banter is bullying’ focusing on the fact that jokes can too easily turn into hate incidents.

The filming was supported by volunteer and budding film-maker Tom Gudgeon, who will turn the ideas and footage into a short film to raise more awareness about the risks and impact of stereotyping and bullying. The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Essex will then turn this film into an educational resource for use by schools and youth groups.

Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “This year’s youth conference was an exceptional event with more young people taking part than was anticipated. I was impressed with the willingness of all of the young people to engage and there were very open and constructive with the police and other partners. This conference dealt with really important topics and the feedback provided by the young people on these subjects will be key to informing the further work of my team, the police and partners.”

Youngsters are still welcome to create messages around hate crime and stereotyping for the film project, which will remain open until Wednesday August 19. People wishing to take part can upload their video footage via Twitter using the hashtag #essexonevoice.

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PFCC for Essex, Kelvedon Park, London Road, Rivenhall, Witham, Essex, CM8 3HB
01245 291600

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