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Liverpool school kids take part in project aimed at breaking the cycle of organised crime groups

1 year ago

Liverpool school kids take part in project aimed at breaking the cycle of organised crime groups

Children at a Netherton primary school have taken part in an EVOLVE project aimed at helping to break the cycle of organised crime groups.

EVOLVE is a multi-agency partnership approach based on the Home Office designed Clear, Hold, Build strategy to rescue and regenerate areas most affected by serious and organised crime.

Partners involved in EVOLVE include Merseyside Police, Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, local councils, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, housing associations, health services, schools, colleges, local businesses, community groups and residents.

The group of nine to 11-year-old children from Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School took part in a week-long Mini Pathfinder project organised by Merseyside Police that forms part of a preventative policing approach to support young people to make positive choices through early intervention.

PCSO Peter Shone from the local policing team, along with a number of organisations, spent a week each with children in years five and six at the school on Stand Park Avenue focusing on a range of crime types to learn about positive choices and consequences.

The morning of day one saw children learn about positive choices and consequences through a wide range of interactive games, role play and discussions on knife crime, anti-social behaviour, hate crime, drugs, underage drinking and general safety when out in the community.

In the afternoon, the children learned about loan sharks with a visit from the illegal money lending team who taught the pupils the signs to look out for in people who may have fallen foul to a loan shark and what to do to help.

The children were asked by the team to enter a competition to design a new poster with the creators of the two best posters receiving £35 in Amazon vouchers funded by money seized from loan sharks.

On the second day, PCSO Shone was joined by Choices Education and Lifelong Learning Skills (CELLS) where those attending had either made the wrong decision at some point in their life and been sent to prison or had never been in trouble with the police but crime had affected their families and communities.

The former offenders in the team have turned their lives around and attend schools to educate pupils on the mistakes they made to help deter pupils from crime. Subjects covered included County Lines, drug dealing, grooming, child criminal exploitation, bullying, gang culture, peer pressure, knife crime, family perspective and victim impact.

Pupils experienced a mock prison and the day-to-day routine of a prisoner. At the end of the day the children took part in a mock court case about joint enterprise.

On day three pupils were taught first aid and basic lifesaving skills by Military Style Education (MSE) and were awarded with a level one young life saver certificate.

Pupils also gained an understanding of cybercrime and cyber safety through a fun and interactive quiz where they competed against each other for a chance to win virtual crypto currency. The more questions they answered correctly the more crypto currency they received.

On day four PCSO Shone was joined by staff from Activate Body and Mind who discussed the positive effect sport can have on wellbeing and how it helps to install discipline by focusing on goals and regular training.

The children participated in three workshops including a boxercise class, a nutritional session focusing on the dangers of energy drinks and the negative effect junk food has on a young person’s body and health, and a mental health and anxiety session.

Pupils were shown different types of self-calming mechanisms and taught what to do should they or a family member be suffering. They then took part in a yoga session learning how to calm themselves down and focus their mind on positive thoughts.

On the final day of the programme PCSO Shone was joined by a local musician/beatboxer/rapper who taught the pupils how to write their own raps with children producing raps about the subjects covered during the week such as anti-social behaviour, hate crime, knife crime, drug dealing and County Lines.

The children later performed their raps at an awards ceremony in the afternoon for pupils and their parents where each pupil received a certificate for taking part in the week, their level 1 first aid award and two pupils won trophies for being the most enthusiastic.

Collette Simms, headteacher at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School, said:

“I was so impressed with the whole project. We were very fortunate to have Pete in with his team for two weeks, working with Year 5 and Year 6 children.

“The children loved the activities and we had excellent feedback from parents. A couple even commented how their children are now talking about joining the police in the future.

“The engagement of the children was wonderful to see and the program provided them with a valuable skill set to help keep them safe in the future.”

Inspector Ray Mavrakakis, from the local policing team, added:

“We were delighted to be given this opportunity to work with Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Primary School.

“Prevention work is at the heart of our policing and we hope that by engaging with young people we can help to make a positive difference for the future.

“EVOLVE is about taking our communities that have been most affected by gang crime on a journey, disrupting and deterring gang activity and improving neighbourhoods so that they can be made safer for generations to come.”

Anyone affected by crime is asked to call Merseyside Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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