This year's Youth Commission meets for the first time
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson was introduced to the newest crop of members who will form this year’s Youth Commission at their first official meeting.
The group, made up of 14-24 year olds, met at Chippenham’s Community Hub last weekend and is the first step in the year-long Commission cycle for them to discuss and influence policing, crime and community safety matters in Wiltshire and Swindon.
Discussion points at the first meeting included:
Police engagement with young people in schools, and how crime could be better prevented
The power of social media and the role it plays in glamourising crime
What makes young people feel unsafe in public spaces and how to make them safer
Some of the aims of forming the commission is to enable young people, including those from underrepresented groups, to have a stronger voice on issues which effect their lives and directly influence policing priorities and to boost the number of ways in which the OPCC engages with residents, of all ages, across the county.
Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson said: “Engaging with young people is easily one of my favourite things about being PCC, this new group of Youth Commissioners bring a fresh take on policing and community safety that we otherwise wouldn’t have considered.
“Too often we discuss and commission services for young people without engaging with them on their wants and needs, and the Youth Commission bridges that gap to ensure that young people are getting what they need most from Wiltshire Police and my office.
“What particularly struck me about the Youth Commission’s new crop is the variety of experiences and backgrounds they bring to the table.”
Last year saw the very first inaugural Youth Commission, set up to directly influence policing priorities and shape conversations between Wiltshire Police, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and young people in the county.
The project, run by Leaders Unlocked on behalf of the OPCC, saw regular meetings of the Commission which provided them with a platform to discuss a range of issues to help shape their final report and recommendations before being presented to various county stakeholders at their Youth Conference earlier this year.
The Commission’s final report and recommendations were influenced by the young people’s experiences but also from feedback collected via a survey carried out among more than 1,400 young people and ensured young people’s views and experiences were reflected in Making Wiltshire Safer: Police and Crime Plan 2022 - 2025.
Mr Wilkinson added: “Last year’s Commission was fundamental to ensuring we had reflected the needs, wants and aspirations of our county’s young people in my Police and Crime Plan and so they were able to directly influence the strategic policing priorities for Wiltshire.
“They also gave my Office and Wiltshire Police valuable insight in to where there may be information gaps or where we could target more engagement or campaign work.
“I was really pleased to be able to award them a special recognition award for their contribution to community safety and delivering the recommendations they made for both the OPCC and police.”
Youth Commission member Serena, 17, said: "From the next year on the commission I hope to gain valuable skills such as working successfully in a team. I also hope to gain knowledge on how we can improve policing so that by the end of my time on the commission group the police have a better idea how to work with the community to reduce criminal activity. "
And Iona, 17, added: "I enjoyed that everyone was including and everyone’s thoughts were included. I think the youth commission is important because it gives younger people a chance to say what they think and about any change that needs to be done in the police. This can also educate more people with the changes. My hopes for the commissions is to be able to make positive changes to the police and allows other young people to be heard."
India, 14, said: "I really enjoyed being able to discuss with young people the issues in our area and work out how many if them were so similar to others. It was a great experience and I know a lot of good with come from it in the future, changing our community for the better. This is such an important cause, helping to give a voice to young people what such a driving motive for me to join and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it."