The police in South Yorkshire are getting younger, as Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, discovered when he recently paid a visit to the newly recruited Mini Police officers at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield.
Mini Police is a project designed to help young people have a positive attitude towards the police from the start of their young lives. It is planned to take the project into other primary schools in South Yorkshire.
A member of the police civilian staff from the Lifewise centre in Hellaby deliver the programme in schools, helped by local neighbourhood officers. The children are primary-aged in years 5 and 6 (aged 9-11). The police engage with the children, building relationships and giving pupils a taste of what it is like to be a police officer. It is hoped that the children can also be taken to see the mounted section and the dog handlers.
When enrolling, each Mini Police Officer is given a uniform to wear when they are ‘on duty’ and a notebook to record what they have learnt. At Arbourthorne School, each youngster was presented with an Oath of Office by Dr Billings during his visit.
The ‘mini officers’ then work closely with the local Police and Community Support Officers to deliver messages to the rest of their school about the role of the police and other emergency services. They will also take part in monitoring parking and the speed of vehicles around the school.
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This scheme is an excellent way of engaging with young people early on about the role of the police and how they can work together to make their community a safer place to live.
“Above all, they will learn to see the police as people who are there to help, support and safeguard them. These are important attitudes towards the police which we need to establish as early as we can in young lives. We cannot assume that this is how all the adults in their lives feel about the police, and some of the families come from countries where the police are to be feared and avoided.
“The plan is to have Mini Police in many other schools across the county and I am happy to support that.”