Youth workers to join police in anti-riot initiative

FOLLOWING riots throughout London youth workers have pledged to join police patrols for the remainder of the summer holidays to ensure Harrow steers clear of trouble.

In a unique response to disturbances across the capital youth workers have already joined nightly police patrols to bolster community relations.

In the immediate aftermath of riots Harrow’s Borough Commander asked for support from Council youth workers to support younger people to understand the consequences of looting.

Early last week 15 staff, including youth workers from The Wealdstone Youth Centre, Harrow’s Detached youth workers, youth workers from the Youth Offending Team, social workers and youth mentors went out with police to talk to young people with the aim of defusing and preventing any problems escalating.

The Council has now committed to provide a minimum of four youth workers every evening for the rest of August to support police foot patrols.

Amongst those to join the patrols was Sarah Davies, Harrow Council’s operational manager of young people’s services, who said: “Policing our streets and enforcing the law is a job for police, but we all have a role to play in preventing crime and reducing fears.

“I feel youth work can play a vital role working along side Harrow Police. Youth workers in Harrow have built up relationships with a variety of young people and can reinforce the strong police messages that this behaviour will not be tolerated, and actions will have consequences.

“While in no way condoning or excusing what happened in London and elsewhere, it is clear that a number of young people are increasingly feeling a lack of hope in their futures.

“No hope of going to university as it’s too expensive or training for a trade but pressure from society and the media to earn lots of money quickly.

“Here in Harrow there are opportunities for young people to air their views or frustrations, like our excellent Youth Parliament. We have also continued investing in advice and guidance for young people in their careers through our Connexions service.”

Rod Andrew, a senior youth worker based at the Wealdstone Youth Centre added: “Going out with the police has had a big impact here in Harrow and really helped calm the situation.

“Many young people see the police as enforcers but they don’t see youth workers like me in the same light, and indeed that is not our job.

“We are more approachable, act as advocates for young people and can mediate between them and the police. When young people see us out with officers, it makes the police more approachable too.”
Praising the added help of youth workers in Harrow Borough Commander, Chief Superintendant Dal Babu said: “Having youth workers patrolling alongside Harrow police officers was an excellent tactic which helped to calm and diffuse any potentially volatile situations and to keep the peace in Harrow on behalf of the law-abiding majority.”

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