July saw Greig City Academy become the first school to be visited since the closing of the Youth Summit, with both the school and TSG looking to address concerns head-on.
On 8th July Hope In Tottenham and MPS Haringey organised a trip from the Met’s central Territorial Support Group (TSG) to Greig City Academy secondary school in Hornsey. The students learned a lot from the session and had the chance to ask officers questions about stop and search or any other issues around policing – plus they also learned how to walk backwards while holding riot shields and being pelted with tennis balls!
These visits, which Hope in Tottenham and Haringey Police organise on a regular basis, are there to allow young people and police officers to talk to each other in a neutral place and time. Head of Year 9 at Greig City Academy Andrew Wilson said “This is so important. For one it humanizes the police for the students. And second, it shows the police that kids are just kids – never mind someone might be six-foot-tall”.
Mr Wilson chose the students who took part in the visit for various reasons. Some were interested in being police officers while others had less-than-positive reactions towards policing. “This breaks down barriers,” he noted, “the students understand more about what the job of policing involves and it stops that alienation from law enforcers”.
MPS Haringey schools officer for Greig City Academy PC Ahmed added his support to the visits saying “officers also get to ask crucial questions. How does being stopped and searched affect you? It feeds directly into police training and is a new channel of communication”.
During the visit, students were taken around the inside of the police van and shown all the equipment that the police have to do their jobs from battering rams for forcing doors to gas masks and protective equipment. Director of Hope in Tottenham Rev. John Wood MBE. was also on hand to see things run smoothly, talking to students who were nervous around the police.
One of the officers, PC Cooper said that the visits Hope In Tottenham and MPS Haringey organise in local schools really help everyone. “In the middle of a dynamic situation or a public order issue on the street there is usually no time for this kind of discourse,” she explained, “so we volunteer to do these school visits because we know it is so important.”
But the last word must go to the students themselves – reactions were positive and ranged from “I didn’t know how heavy everything they had to hold was” to “it’s been really useful. I wouldn’t be so worried if I was stopped now”.
By Christina Davis