Police in Redbridge breaking down barriers with school students’ panel

Redbridge Police Youth Panel on one of their team-building and activity days at Lambourne End.

Redbridge Police Youth Panel on one of their team-building and activity days at Lambourne End. - Credit: Archant

A pioneering scheme where the police give young people the chance to voice their concerns is looking for new members.

Redbridge Police Youth Panel formed in November 2011 and was the first for school pupils in the Metropolitan Police area. It was made up of 25 students in years nine to 13 from schools around the area.

Through the panel, the borough’s young have the chance to regularly speak to officers in confidence.

At a meeting aimed at finding new members of the panel, borough commander Det Ch Supt Sue Williams said: “It is really important for us to reduce crime, increase confidence and satisfaction for victims, and this is where young people come in.

“We want to give young people a voice so they can tell us what they think our priorities should be.

“They are the ones who know what is going on in their schools and, unless you tell us, we can’t do anything to solve the problems they might have.”

The panel, which meets fortnightly, was looking for new members at a special meeting at Barkingside Police Station on Thursday.

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Panel chairman, Nathaniel Boalch, 17, said: “When I first joined over a year ago, I didn’t think I’d still be part of the panel now. It has been an eye-opening experience.

“One of the things I think the police should concentrate on is their street presence in the borough. I think it makes people feel much safer.

“The police need us and this is a great opportunity to help change the problems that you see in the area.”

Pc Kim Cowell said: “We don’t get much opportunity to find out what young people are worried about which is why the panel is a good idea. We can act quickly on what they tell us.”

n If you would like to join the panel, its next meeting will be at Barkingside Police Station on Thursday next week from 4.30pm-6pm. Call Pc Cowell on 07542 187 727.