Leave site
Skip to content

Elevating the voices of Black children to build better relationships with police

PCSOs Louise Thayer and Eleanor Gill, with Doreen Sinclair from Elevated Minds and Sean Pascal of the Metropolitan Police, with students from The City Academy in Bristol
PCSOs Louise Thayer and Eleanor Gill, with Doreen Sinclair from Elevated Minds and Sean Pascal of the Metropolitan Police, with students from The City Academy in Bristol

Avon and Somerset Police are working with youth engagement experts, to help build stronger relationships with young Black people in Bristol. 

The partnership with Elevated Minds CIC is part of the National Police Race Action Plan and sees Bristol join other major cities in England and Wales, in an initiative that encourages children of Black heritage to have their say in how the police can better engage with them. 

The programme also aims to improve children of Black heritage’s perceptions of the police and encourage them to consider a career in the police service.  

Detective Chief Inspector Larisa Hunt, Avon and Somerset Police’s lead for Early Intervention, Crime Prevention and Children and Young People said: “Traumatic interactions with the police over many decades means that sadly, many children of Black heritage do not have trust or confidence in us to keep them safe or treat them fairly. This creates a barrier preventing young people of Black heritage from even considering a career in policing.  

“When it comes to how we can improve this, it can be difficult to capture young people’s thoughts about what they want from their police service, because their lack of trust in us makes them reluctant to engage with us. 

“This partnership with Elevated Minds is an invaluable opportunity for us to what children want from their police service and what would encourage them to consider a career in policing. 

“In Avon and Somerset Police, our Race Matters programme is looking at different ways to rebuild the trust and confidence of people from racially and ethnically minoritised backgrounds, from improving our stop and search policies to reduce disproportionality, to educating our workforce to better understand the lived experiences and history of our diverse communities. 

“Ensuring young people’s voices are part of these changes it essential if we’re to realise our ambition of becoming an anti-racist police service, because as cliched as it sounds, they are the future. Without young people’s input or taking their perspectives into account, we will continue to see people of Black heritage under-represented in our organisation but over-represented in the criminal justice system.” 

During April and May 2024, expert educational practitioners from Elevated Minds, will join Avon and Somerset Police’s school engagement and neighbourhood officers at three schools in Bristol. The partnership started today with a workshop at City Academy, seeking the opinions of students of Black heritage about their local police service and gathering their ideas for improving relationships with them. This will be followed by workshops at Easton Primary School and at another still to be confirmed secondary school.  

Doreen Sinclair-McCollin, CEO of Elevated Minds said: “Our programme was developed after many years working closely with the Metropolitan Police and inner-city schools in London, which has helped us understand what the police must do to build strong and positive relationships with young people. 

“Ultimately, we all want the same thing – a police service we can trust and rely upon to keep us safe and be there for us when we need them. We’re holding these workshops in eight cities in England and Wales, not only to gather the opinions of young Black people to feed into the National Police Race Action Plan, but to also show them positive police role models. Children learn that police officers are people too, with families and lives outside their jobs and see that a career in policing is something to aspire to.  

“Bristol is an important city for our programme, because its Black heritage communities have such a unique history with the police. Avon and Somerset Police’s Race Matters programme shows their commitment to improving relationships with their diverse communities and I’m really looking forward to bringing our sessions to Bristol and hearing what the city’s children think.”