Blue Light Youth Conference
Following on from the success of a previous visit to the Blue Light Youth Conference a group of our Year 9 and 10 students were thrilled to be given the chance to attend this year’s event at the Hamptons in Great Baddow.
The Conference was hosted by Roger Hirst, the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, and the Young Essex Assembly. Throughout the day our students joined with others from across the county to meet representatives from Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Services, and the East of England Ambulance Service.
The students had the opportunity to chat in person to Mr Hirst on a wide range of community safety issues as well as being able to explore in depth some of the current hot topics that really interest them. Whilst it was a chance for students to learn more about these issues, a major aim of the event was for the emergency services to be able to hear from young people in Essex about what they thought too!
First of all, there was an invitation to participate in three ‘Trio of Truth’ interactive workshops on Hate Crime, Human Trafficking and Staying Safe in the Digital Age. Students benefited from the input of ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ who lead the Hate Crime workshop, and explained to students what they could do to recognise and challenge Hate Crime in our society. Tyreese L from Year 10 was really impressed: “The Hate Crime workshop was really interesting. We learned a lot about how many different types of hate crimes there are & how the law can protect victims who report them.”
‘Staying Safe in the Digital Age’ was led by the Essex Police Serious Crime Directorate, and used an interactive session to show students how vulnerable their personal data could be, and how to be smarter online. “The policeman demonstrated that who we think we are talking to online may not always be that person”, Leigh M from Year 9 explains: “and this helped me understand how to be more aware and careful.”
The Human Trafficking session, presented by the Justice & Care Police department, raised questions about how to spot trafficking, and what services might exploit people in this way.
Next up were ‘Snap Chats’ sessions, a chance for students to quiz members of the emergency services and their partner agencies in a quick-fire, round-robin style. Michelle A from Year 9 explains: “It was a good chance to ask questions to members of the emergency services and find out what their job roles involve. In return, by speaking to us they get to understand how they can help the younger generation.”
Finally, and for many the undisputed stars of the show, the students welcomed Police Dogs Rex, retired Police Dog Baloo and new boy on the block Bruce the puppy with their Dog Handler PC Ashcroft. PC Ashcroft spoke about the varied duties of Police Dogs and how they can detect things that humans cannot which, amazingly, includes being able to detect hard drives and USB devices!
The students all agreed that they found the day useful and interesting; Mr Hirst was clear that the benefits of the conference went two ways, saying: “This was a really exciting event for us and an excellent opportunity to find out what young people in the county think about their emergency services”. He went on to add: “they asked us all some great questions and it’s clear that young people are really passionate about finding out more about the people who protect and look after them. Hopefully they also took away some valuable life skills to help keep them safe. It was good to hear their views too as it really helps us to shape our plans.”