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Safer Summer investment encourages community spirit in the young

In her latest blog, Alison talks about the Safer Summer Scheme and how the scheme is investing in youth services.

Safer Summer investment encourages community spirit in the young

It has been refreshing to get out and visit many of most popular beauty spots which will be made safer and cleaner thanks to the release of half a million pounds for the Safer Summer Scheme which my office has set up to help tackle alcohol linked antisocial behaviour right across Devon and Cornwall in a summer of corona virus challenges.

Twenty summer locations across the two counties have benefitted from this scheme, with the money spent on street marshals, CCTV, assisting volunteer schemes like Street Pastors and the provision of temporary toilets.

The investment came after the police and our communities had to deal with incidents of antisocial behaviour linked to excessive drinking as restrictions on people’s movement eased after lockdown – particularly from our young population.

This cash injection is on top of another £400,000 I had already provided to the Chief Constable to develop innovations to mitigate some of the additional demands that summer brings to Devon and Cornwall

A new domestic abuse service has been introduced in Newquay and Plymouth, where a plain clothes detective and a domestic abuse professional, team-up to attend domestic incidents as they are reported.

Last week I wrote about another piece of work which has seen three mental health practitioners and police joint response units formed in partnership with the social enterprise Livewell South West and the Devon Partnership NHS Trust. These are operating in Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter.

These are just two of the innovations in police work that have been supported by investment from my office and I am looking forward to seeing the evaluation of this project in the autumn.

We’re not just taking a robust approach to drunken behaviour. We are also dealing with issues arising with young people who have become isolated, bored and disengaged because of prolonged absence from school during lockdown and are at risk of getting involved in anti-social behaviour and crime.

In a ‘normal’ year we all know how difficult it is to keep young people occupied during the long summer break but 2020 brings a unique set of circumstances.

And that means youth services are more important than ever because they provide support and guidance, especially when young people can easily be distracted by risk taking behaviours that on the surface may look like fun.

In Cornwall, police are supporting a cycle scheme run by Cornwall Outdoors, engaging with young people who have been identified as being at risk of committing antisocial behaviour.

Alongside this, the Draceana Centre in Falmouth are offering outdoor activities for young people who are vulnerable and generally struggling in life.

Courses are designed to draw young people away from being isolated at home, where prolonged online activity can cause low confidence, anxiety and poor mental health to develop.

In Torbay, the Nova Street team is delivering outreach sessions and other activities aimed at young people who are at risk of causing anti-social behaviour or being exploited by others.

It is so important that the police can build relationships with young people to ensure they are not afraid of asking for help when they need it, nor feel harassed for being stopped and searched more frequently than most of us adults ever would be.

In Devon colleagues at SPACE, previously known as Devon Youth Service, have been commissioned to provide a similar service.

The police have identified several locations which they will visit on Friday and Saturday evenings along with trained youth workers and engage with any young people gathered there. This is in addition to the regular schedule of purposeful activity provided by the youth service during the summer period.

In Plymouth, the police are working with the council’s pop-up youth outreach team to engage with young people at risk of harm and exploitation.

The police know that many young people don’t connect with them so this partnership will be taking to the streets and visiting them in their homes to try and build better relationships, to keep them out of trouble and better help parents and carers know what their children are up to.

If we are to create safer, resilient and connected communities we need to help them live a safer life, before they wander down the path of becoming an offender or victim.

Alison Hernandez