In the wake of the riots that have left major cities across the UK devastated, and news headlines that have told a bleak story of communities under attack, an innovative summer camp is breaking down barriers to exclusion, whilst also tackling anti-social behaviour with spectacular results.
Research suggests that low level crime and anti social behaviour peak during periods of extended school holidays.
Students from Bradford College Public Services Department have joined forces with the West Yorkshire Police to design various diversionary events for 10 to 15 year olds, to give them a series of activities to get involved in during the summer holidays.
Activities on offer include sports, martial arts, indoor and outdoor team building activities, swimming, assault courses and also computer gaming.
Students have been assisting the police to create and implement the week-long summer camp, helping to provide sporting and education workshops as an alternative to hanging out on the streets.
Course Tutor Nosheen Qamer said: "The Public Services course is aimed at students who wish to pursue a career in the uniformed and non-uniformed services such as the police, prison and fire service - as well as immigration, social services, NHS management and youth work.”
Nosheen Qamer continued: “During last years event, a victim of antisocial behaviour spoke to young people about his experience and what it was like to be on the receiving end of crime. It had a profound affect on them.”
“Previously they thought it was fun to throw stones at windows or call people names, but hearing it from the victims perspective changed all that for them.”
The scheme provides an opportunity for young people to meet their local Neighbourhood Policing Team officers and discuss issues, whilst also building positive relationship with young people in the area.
Nosheen Qamer added: “Bradford is a multicultural city and very diverse. There are pockets of different ethnicities and communities that don’t always mix. Problems arise because of the lack of integration, which can then lead to isolation and ignorance about each others cultures.”
“We devised a series of activities on diversity to help the youngsters understand how we should co-exist and live together.”
PCSO Chris Cahill comments: “The Summer Camp is pro-active Neighbourhood Policing. We have been working with youngsters from Bradford, not only to improve the relationship between the community and police, but also to show these youngsters they do have positive role models, that can help them build on their goals and aspirations for the future. We want them to know we are here to support communities - and working together with our partners at Bradford College, we can make Bradford’s future bright.’
Following the success of last year’s innovative campaign, low level crime figures have dropped.
Neighbourhood policing teams have also reported a significant improvement in the areas they patrol – with Asian and White youngsters mixing from different areas, having formed strong friendships whilst on the scheme.