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‘It is vitally important young people have trust and confidence in our police service,’ were the words from West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, as he joined officers, mentors and teenagers to discuss ways to strengthen the public’s perception of the police.

The packed networking event, organised by Digital Skills Consulting, took place at BMet’s Matthew Boulton College in Birmingham, as more than 50 young people aged between 16 and 18 joined officers from West Midlands Police and other partners, to pitch a series of digital concepts – such as apps and social media campaigns – that could see local communities and the police work in tandem.

The PCC’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) team were also on hand, alongside Youth Commissioners and digital developers, to hear about the ideas put forward that could significantly enhance relationships between young people and the police. College students were also given the opportunity to find out about embarking on a career within West Midlands Police as well as opportunities in design and technology industries.

Speaking after addressing the youth event in Birmingham, PCC Simon Foster said: “Young people will always be a top priority for me. We must invest in their future and safeguard and promote their welfare. That will provide the opportunity for them to fulfil their potential and that will benefit our region.

“It is vitally important that young people have trust and confidence in our police service. Equally, our police service must police in a way that is child and young people-centred and that understands the particular needs and vulnerabilities that can impact on young people.

“The ultimate aim of the event, is to build young people’s trust and confidence in the police and for the police to better understand and work with young people.

“It is also a fantastic opportunity to network with other young people and to explore future careers in the design and technology industries and perhaps even a career within policing.”

West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Kim Madill added: “This event was a fantastic way for police and partners to hear from young people in the area and have open and honest conversations to understand what their perceptions of policing are.

“Our aim is to build young people’s trust and confidence in the police as well as listen to their opinions and concerns around everything from vaping to knife crime.

“These events build on our youth engagement work where we actively listen to young people to learn from their experiences which then shape our approach. Whether it’s school councils, surveys, cadets or the youth police and crime commissioners, we’re listening and adapting.

“As well as being hugely beneficial for the young people their feedback is also invaluable to help us work with partners to tackle the issues that matter the most to them.

“It’s also an opportunity to encourage young people to report concerns and crimes as well as the different ways they can do this, either to police and partners or anonymously by contacting Fearless – the dedicated youth service of Crimestoppers.”

The Improving Young People’s Perception of the Police event at Matthew Boulton College was sponsored by Axon, the leader of body-worn video, digital evidence management and mobile solutions for law enforcement.

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