Takeover challenge taken up by Croydon Police
by Chardonnay Henry
On 24 November 2017 the Youth Takeover Challenge took place for the first time in Croydon. At this event a group of young people took over different roles within Croydon Council and the Police. I was fortunate to take over the role of Director of Strategy and Partnership at Croydon Council from Julian Ellerby.
The day was very eventful and kept me on my feet, there was never a moment where I was not kept busy. I met Croydon Council’s communication and media team and was shown new ideas to keep the Croydon streets clean and helped to take photos of the day. I also met the health team and they wanted to know if their format used on their website was inviting for teenagers. I informed them that to me it seems inviting.
However the highlight of my day was interviewing Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan from Croydon Police. During the interview Jane Corrigan spoke about knife crimes and how it is impacting everyone. She said that she is working with other organisations, such as boxing clubs, to bring about change for youths. I questioned her on what she and her team are doing to keep youths safe and asked what they the police intend to do to make themselves more approachable to young people. Her response was that “you are the future” as well as stating that it is tricky to know how to stop people from committing crimes.
When she asked what I could do to address knife crime. I posed the idea that we should take a pop up tent to Croydon town centre during term time to talk to young people and find out how they feel. I suggested sweets might give young people the confidence to come up to the tent and fill out a questionnaire or talk to the police officers.
Jane liked the idea and went forward with the plan and on 20 December 2017 I joined her in Croydon town centre.
On the day young people were asked whether they felt safe in their community and 39% of those who responded said they did not. Thirty-seven young people, 44% of those who responded, said they knew people who carried a knife. When asked what they would say to a friend they knew was carrying them, most (71% of those who responded) said they would tell them “to stop” or “stop being an idiot”, tell them it “is irresponsible” or “will be used against them” or is “safer outside if not carrying one”.
The event was a huge success and more, similar events are planned in February. Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan’s said: “Our generation has the power, the potential and the opportunity to make young people successful. It’s by getting out there and engaging with young people on different levels that we have the opportunity to make a real difference. I intend to do more of it with my officers.”
Chardonnay turned 15 this month and attends Archbishop Tenison’s CofE High School. She is a member of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets of 97 Squadron Croydon and also participates in the drama group Combo in association with Theatre Utopia. She has recently joined Croydon Council’s Youth Forum and her ambition is to become a journalist.