Crime and Safety Awareness Days
What do they involve?
The main project delivered by the PMNW scheme to-date has been the Crime and Safety Awareness Days, which have been delivered in all eight of the Islands secondary schools on an annual basis since 2002. During the Crime and Safety Awareness Days, up to twenty voluntary uniformed offices from the prison and police services, take over the schools Year 8 students and treat them as inmates.
The students are removed from their normal daily school cycle and from other members of their peer group for the day and treated like prisoners. They are escorted by officers in a disciplined manner through a series of interactive workshops, resourced by numerous agencies, such as the Prison, Police, Fires Service, Ambulance Service, Woman’s Refuge, Headway, Animal Shelter and Brook Advisory Service.
The workshops and resources used also highlight the exaggerated and often-incorrect images of prison life portrayed through television and the media and any myths or misconceptions young people may have. These days encourage the participants to respect the value of their freedom whilst experiencing the restrictions of a real day in the life of a prisoner first hand.
The workshops cover various key topics such as:
Prison Life – the restrictions placed upon students attending the works shops demonstrate that it is not the holiday camp portrayed by some people or as shown in an episode of ‘Bad Girls’ or ‘The Bill’ – and that prison does not just affect the person sent there but also family and friends who have to deal with the trauma. We highlight that prison can be a very lonely place and that prisoners have to live by disciplined rules and regulations that are often difficult and annoying to accept. We also use the mobile resource vehicle to demonstrate how it feels to be a prisoner, to have freedom and trust taken away and have to live with the control element.
Drugs Awareness – raising awareness to the different forms of drugs and the effects they have on individuals and how to help someone who may be in trouble is an important element of the workshops. Officers show students how to identify various drugs which may be passed onto them through peer pressure or as a ‘harmless bit of fun’ or through spiked drinks. Officers also relay facts on the dangerous effects of these drugs through scenarios that the students can identify with and advice on how to help someone who may have taken drugs and is ill as a result of it. We have invested in a ‘drugs’ case so the students can all see what the drugs actually look like in reality. We also ensure that we work in partnership with the SoJP on this element and look to the Drug Squad to identify trends / drugs which are a particular problem at the time – so we can give up to date, accurate information to the students, which reflects the drugs issues currently affecting the community.
Anti social behaviour – when there were signs of an increase of ASB in the community we designed an interactive workshop which revolved around a specially designed ‘set’ – we refer to as our ‘Street Scene’ - It measures 8 foot in height and is around 30/40 feet in length. It consists of a corner shop – where the underage student ‘buys’ alcohol from the shopkeeper
and a house next door which has a young family who live there – the role play shows how the students behave badly while drunk, the father who lives in the house then gets involved in a scuffle with the students as his young baby has been woken up by the noise – and of course we demonstrate the consequences for all concerned – including the shopkeeper who sold them the alcohol in the first place!
The day is brought to a close with a prize giving to pupils who have been identified as making a significant contribution to the day and the grand finale is a pop concert performed by a band / DJ.
One of the new workshops we introduced in the autumn term of 2007, involved the dog handlers – which brought yet another exciting element into the exercise yard routine for the students while still allowing PMNW to address a serious subject
Bringing in dogs can also prompt other problems within the schools themselves, whilst Education may have policies in place to address drugs on school premises – this exercise helps Education enforce that policy – as obviously if a dog uncovers an illegal substance, then there has to be police intervention!
Lesson plans are currently being drawn up to address a ‘Youth Court’ workshop with the full support of the magistrates, which will re-inact the process and proceedings and enable the pupils to undergo that ‘experience’ in the class as opposed to reality!