Find out what young people really think of the police


The Sussex Youth Commission’s (SYC) ‘Big Conversation’ Conference gets underway today (Wednesday 23 September) at the American Express Community Stadium.

The Commission’s 38 members, aged 15 to 25, will present their findings and recommendations to Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, Chief Constable Giles York and guests from the voluntary sector, local government, charities and educational establishments involved in children and young people’s services across Sussex.

For nine months SYC members have been consulting on five priority issues with over 2,000 young people across Sussex. They have been finding out what their peers really think of the police on controversial issues such as stop and search, policing of the night time economy, support for young offenders and improving positive engagement with young people.

Many of the SYC members have been on the receiving end of stop and search, hate crime and cyber bullying as well as experiencing first-hand the criminal justice system like 19-year-old Nadine Smith, from Crawley.

Nadine said: “I am super excited about getting to present with Superintendent Laurence Taylor, Sussex Police’s lead for children and young people. I want everyone to know about the amazing work of the Youth Commission, what we are all about and how it has helped me on my personal journey that involved negative experiences with the police in the past. I can’t wait for different agencies to see what we do and how we are breaking down barriers between young people and police.

“Superintendent Taylor and I will be giving an overview of the SYC, successes from last year and a bit about the role of the Youth Commission Independent Advisory Group (IAG), which was set up as a result of last year’s SYC recommendations.”

Youth Commission member, Freya Blackman, 25, from Hailsham said: “I am presenting part of the work on drug and alcohol abuse and how we can make a difference with young people and the police. We will set out our findings, not only for the police but for ourselves and the PCC. Hopefully we can carry forward the work we have done this year and make a greater impact in the future. We’ve had amazing opportunities to experience both sides and I truly feel that we can make a difference.”

Mrs Bourne said: “I am really looking forward to this year’s Big Conversation event and listening to the recommendations as well as taking part in the round table discussions.

“Once again, my Youth Commission has given young people across the county a real voice on policing and crime and my ambition is for them and the IAG to turn listening into real action and concerns into genuine change for the future.

“Members have told me that they want to add real value to policing to help ensure a better experience for young people. So going forward I want them to work even more closely on key projects run from my office, such as Victims Services Commissioning, our Video Enabled Justice project and the Restorative Justice programme-including a potential Youth RJ Court.

“They have told me that they are really fired up to take the Youth Commission concept to the next level and become the model for all others to follow, and I am committed to supporting them.”

Rose Dowling, Director, Leaders Unlocked, which specialises in engaging young people said: “This year the SYC have shown real tenacity and dedication, talking to over 2000 young people across Sussex. Crucially, they have heard the voices of groups that are often overlooked such as homeless young people, the LBGT community and young offenders. As young researchers, the SYC have exceeded our expectations in both the volume and quality of their responses.

“Based on the findings of their Big Conversation they will be presenting far-reaching recommendations for the police, PCC and partners this week, as well as actions that they themselves intend to take forward. They will also be presenting a new ‘Youth Pact’ to guide the way Sussex Police and young people interact with each other, to ensure young people know their rights and responsibilities, and challenge negative stereotypes on both sides. This is a phenomenal legacy and will certainly set the standard for an improving relationship going forward.”

Four hundred guests have been invited to the event, including Tim Loughton MP, East Worthing and Shoreham, as well as representatives from organisations such as Allsorts, a LGBT group for young people; Catch 22, a charity that represents vulnerable young people; Band of Brothers, a mentoring service for young men; Albion in the Community; MIND; YMCA as well as criminology academics from both Brighton and Sussex Universities.

Follow the event on twitter using #SYC2015

Click here to view the Youth Commission’s final report and infographic.

Further quotes from SYC members about their priority issues:

Olivia Johnstone, 22, a law graduate from Lewes: “I’ll be presenting on the support that young offenders currently have within society and also exploring their recommendations as to what support they feel is crucial but unfortunately is absent. I will be highlighting the gaps within the support currently offered, and get agencies and individuals to recognise this gap and be more proactive in helping to create a resolution to the ‘gap’ going forward.

Sylvia Sigfusdottir, 17, Bexhill: “I will be presenting the findings that we have collected about hate crime and our proposals for it. Hopefully our proposals will be listened to and action will be taken so that we can continue to increase police action on Hate Crime and to keep increasing education on it”.

Joseph Skinner, 19, Bognor Regis: “I am presenting on the relationship between the police and young people. I hope to take the opportunity to implement real change to a diverse audience and to prompt active debate with the multiple agencies in attendance.’

Josh Funnell, 16, Littlehampton “I hope for our audience to appreciate the issues of cyber-bullying, and the findings the SYC has developed over the past few months. I will be pushing for them to understand that to deal with such a significant issue, we need to dream big, and use innovative education methods to change the views of online crime.”



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