With Euro 2020 now in full swing, Bedfordshire Police are using football to connect with Bedford’s youth in order to “break down barriers” and “build trust and confidence”.
The Bedford Community Policing team have organised a number of matches in local schools to restore engagement between youngsters and the authorities in what is a trying time for the police force.
Officers started the initiative earlier this month when they had their first game with Daubeney Academy last Wednesday (9 June), and their second match on Monday (14 June) with Kempston Challenger Academy.
Inspector Sam Hunt from the Bedford Community Policing team said: “Engaging with the young people in our area is extremely important to us and these football matches are already showing they are a brilliant way to do that.
“It’s been a great way to talk to the teenagers about the police, build trust and confidence in us so that they know we are there for them if they ever need us.
“It’s also a good way for us to address serious issues that could impact their lives such as knife crime or county lines. The youth of today are aware of these issues and may even be exposed to them, so it’s important we start talking so we can help protect them and help them make positive choices.
“I’d like to thank the schools and the children for the opportunity for us to do this, it’s been fantastic to work so closely with them and have a bit of fun – especially after the year we’ve all had.”
Police Constable Viv Dady, from the Education and Diversion team at Bedfordshire Police, said: “I work closely with the schools in Bedford, who are full of brilliant young people.”
“It’s so important for us to show them that we are just normal people doing a job to help try and keep them safe. We want young people to be able to speak to us about any worries they may have and break down any barriers that could stop that.”
“These young people are the future of our community and we want to make sure they feel empowered and supported by their local officers.”
If you’re interested in taking part in a youth engagement event, you can contact PC Dady at email@example.com.
The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit supports people affected by gangs, knife crime and county lines
You can also keep updated with local activity by following Bedford Community Policing team on Facebook @bedfordcommunitypolicingteam and Twitter @NorthBedsPolice.