Youth Scrutiny Panel – Mixenden and Ovenden

Young people from The Mixenden Activity Centre have set up a Youth Scrutiny Panel to try and understand some of the issues young people face in these present times.

Heather Stout, from the Mixenden Initiative, was approached by PC Jonny Ramsden from the Youth Offending Team and asked if she knew of any young people who would be willing to sit on such a group.

After discussions with Marcus Irving from the centre, it was agreed to invite a group of young people, who are already acting as peer mentors, to sit on the panel.

In total 14 young people, aged from 13 to 17, agreed to the task in hand.

The group was originally set up in March and their first task was to meet with PC Ramsden to try and understand why the police carry out Stop and Searches on young people and to gain their insight as to whether they feel they are justifiable or not.

The group met with PC Ramsden (Jonny) at the Youth Offending Team offices where Jonny gave them some examples of real life stop and searches and asked them their thoughts. He also explained about GOWISELY, the mnemonic police officers use before any search of a person takes place.

Police officers must take reasonable steps to give the person to be searched the following information:

Grounds for search

Object and purpose of search

Warrant card (if not in uniform or requested)

Identity of officer

Station to which officer is attached

Entitlement to a copy of the search record

Legal power used

You are detained for the purposes of a search

Following on from  that session, the group next met in Mixenden Library in April, where Jonny gave them some practical stop and search scenarios to conduct on each other.

Following on from the practical session the groups held discussions on what they thought and whether they feel they were justified.

Their latest session included a tour of Halifax Police Station. PCSO Carole Foulkes kindly arranged a very detailed tour of the station, carried out by Sgt. Ben Doughty, PCSO  Hudson  and PCSO’s Ross Wardman and Gordon Thorpe.

As part of the tour, the group were greeted by Acting Chief Inspector Crossley who welcomed them to the station and explained briefly about some of the diverse aspects of the job of a police officer.

They were then met by Firearms Officer PC Coulson, who showed the group some of the equipment he carries. He showed them the taser gun he carries but explained that only firearms officers are allowed to touch the taser. He then turned out the lights and showed them an example of the taser’s red dot. This is the beam that lights up showing a red light going from the taser to the target which shows exactly where the taser prongs will attach. He also explained that as a firearms officer he has to have  a higher level of fitness than regular police officers and has to retrain for his firearms officer’s post every 10 weeks.

Sgt. Ben Doughty then passed round the group some of the equipment he carries such as his baton, cufflinks and leg restraints before leading the group down to the cells. The group were surprised at how clean the cells were, some commenting that they expected the doors to have bars. They were however, not very impressed by the cell’s toilet facilities…

As well as visit to the control room, where officers take calls from members of the public, they also visited the POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) office where DC Ashley Nuttall explained what POCA is, how the police gather evidence to trace money and goods gained from illegal activities and what the money that is seized from criminals is used for. Some of the money is given to Calderdale police, whilst some is also given to local good causes through the Safer Communities Fund. Recent recipients of money from the Safer Communities Fund are the Mixenden Activity Centre and the Mixmatch Project.

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