Wickham teenager to scrutinise police

YIAG logo reproduced with permission


By Chief Correspondent Rob Thomas


WHEN the Office of Hampshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner asked for volunteers to join the Youth Independent Advisory Group, Chloe Irwin decided to put her name forward.

The 19-year-old told The Globe she thought it would be, “something different, something new. I would like more young people’s voices to be heard and I think it will be a great opportunity to meet new people and make a change within my community.”

The YIAG was in the process of being set up prior to the election in May of Donna Jones as Hampshire’s PCC and she has pushed it forward so that its first meeting was earlier this month.

According to the OPCC: “We were looking for a wide range of experiences including those who’ve offended or as a victim or witness. Those who are confident to consult with peers, able to challenge and scrutinise and be a part of a group.”

YIAG members are expected to not only put forward their own views but also find out what other young people in their communities think about, and want from, the police.

They then have the opportunity in meetings to present their views and findings directly to senior police officers.

Chloe has no relationship with the police – no family member or friend has been, or is in, the constabulary – but she does have some issues that she thinks are priorities to be tackled during her year-long membership of the group.

In no particular order of important, she lists the issues surrounding drug use and openly smoking drugs as needing to be addressed, as well as violence towards each other and how the police have to get involved. In addition, she is concerned about the online safety of young people, and their mental health after the lockdowns.

She added: “I would like to see it talked about more in schools that the police are safe to go to if you have an issue. For young people, its not a lack of trust… [but]… they always see the police when something bad happens.”

And Chloe is ready to do her bit by going back to her school – she is now in her first year at Reading University – and visiting other schools in her area in order to talk with as many young people as possible.

The YIAG currently has 19 members aged 14 to 25. They have their expenses paid – though meetings are via video conferencing at the moment – and training is being provided. The initial period of being a member is one year but that can be extended.

Any young person wanting to make their views about policing known to Chloe and other members of the YIAB can so by emailing: youthiag@hampshire.police.uk

As well as YIAG, there is a separate group for young people wishing to influence policing in the county – the Youth Commission which has 50 representatives, again aged 14 to 25

Whereas YIAG is specifically to scrutinise and challenge the constabulary in direct discussion with senior police officers, the Youth Commission works with the Commissioner Donna Jones to identify key issues facing young people and actions that she and a wide variety of partners could take to improve policing.