Engaging with our Young People

Neighbourhood police officers continue with a variety of engagement activities involving young people.These include events such as Pizza with Peelers, school improvement initiatives, community safety work and sports events such as cross community football. These activities enable officers to meet young people in an informal and relaxed atmosphere discussing matters which affect them, challenging perceptions and building relations.

 Click a link below or scroll down for details of each of the following projects

Limestone United

A cross community football team that continues to promote community relations through sport, between young people. This has been an extremely successful and popular project. Junior football teams are now being developed in the same manner to which the senior team has been developed. A fine example of community/police partnership work which has made a very positive impact on reducing sectarian views and behaviour with our young people.

Knife Crime Event
Limestone United, an Irish FA and Football For Hope supported project, took part in a knife crime and street violence workshop held at Antrim Road Station by the PSNI Armed Response Unit (ARV) supported by York Road Neighbourhood PSNI Officers.
The ARV unit is a highly specialised response team which covers all of Northern Ireland from several key bases. They have specific training to use items such as tazers and baton guns and are highly skilled in first aid. The officers discussed with the group the types of incidents they have to deal with ranging from street fights, knife attacks and what types of incidents are most common locally. The players got the opportunity to ask questions about any myths or misconceptions they maybe had, and the wide range of consequences there can be, for example the category of some crimes and the punishments attached.   As the group consisted purely of teenage boys there were, as might be expected, a lot of detailed questions about the range of weapons they had to use, what they did and if they have ever had to use them. The officers also shared some of the smaller details involved in their work which wouldn’t make the news, relaying how much one small decision such as carrying a weapon for personnel protection, can affect the rest of a young person’s life. One player noted: “I couldn’t believe when they told us about some of the stabbings they have attended, how small the wound was, only a couple of centimeters but that person lost their life, you assume it would have to be more, I was really surprised, it’s definitely not like anything on TV.” The players were able to explore the armed response vehicle itself, under supervision, and get their hands on some of the equipment deployed by the officers and get an idea of what protection they have to wear at all times, the levels of fitness and correct frame of mind that the officers have to be in on every call out. All were keen to take part in similar workshops in the future, as actually getting to talk directly with each other was a worthwhile experience for both parties building on the relationships made through the Limestone United team and the Neighbourhood Officers.

Alcohol Strategy

The Neighbourhood Team have been involved in proactive patrolling across North Belfast, aimed to reduce antisocial behaviour and on street drinking offences. The team have been engaging with young people, providing information and trying to help them understand the difficulties which arise as a result of on street drinking and antisocial behaviour. During 2012/13 reporting year officers in North Belfast seized 319 alcoholic items on 37 occasions, resulting in 22 young people being referred to police Youth Diversion Officers. Joint patrols with Belfast City Council Wardens continue in North Belfast. There were 53 such patrols in the area between April 2012-March 2013.

Drugs Awareness Programmes
Neighbourhood officers based at York Road have attended a number of drug programmes involving young people from various youth clubs in the New Lodge area. The programme involved talking to the group about drug abuse and known pitfalls of drug usage, concluding with a working scenario involving a ‘mock’ stop, search, arrest and interview of the suspect. This proved to be very interesting and created a good general discussion afterward which was well received by all those taking part.

Cyber Bullying Awareness

Constable Rafferty and Constable Gillies, neighbourhood officers based at York Road have recently launched a new leaflet in conjunction with Youth Justice Agency at Star Youth Club based in New Lodge area. Lessons on cyber bullying were conducted by police in partnership with other agencies to try to help young people understand the impact and effects cyber bullying can have on individuals. The talk was followed by a question and answer session with the young people which proved to be very interesting.

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