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Swaythling Housing Society, part of Radian, has produced a DVD to celebrate the growing success of the Junior Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Scheme. The DVD will be officially launched at a special screening at the Harbour Lights cinema in Southampton on 18th February starting at 11am. The DVD illustrates the positive impact the program has had in the local community throughout Hampshire since its launch two years ago, and to encourage other Housing Associations to get involved.
The Junior PCSO Scheme was set up by Hampshire Constabulary in 2007, in Northam and Chapel developments in Southampton. Swaythling Housing Society supported this with funding and securing involvement from the local residents. The scheme was set up in response to feedback from local residents and children about issues such as anti-social behaviour and low level crime.
Ian Haworth, Assistant Director of Swaythling Housing Society said, “It is evident that if we work together, we’ll achieve a much better outcome. That’s why working with Hampshire Constabulary and other RSLs is much more effective and we encourage other Housing Associations to get involved. These children are potentially our residents of the future, so it’s important to engage with them now and make them part of the community.”
The short film shows the scheme at work, including the practical implications that Junior PCSO’s have on the neighbourhood and how participants learn from the experience. There are interviews with some of the children and parents, and local residents, who give their viewpoints about its effectiveness and value within the community. The DVD also captures the fun aspects of being involved, playing games and recreational activities.
Through involvement with PCSO’s during previous housing estate developments and youth projects, Swaythling saw a positive link between them and the community. PCSO’s interact with people in the local area, providing a visible and reassuring presence, and Swaythling recognised an opportunity for young children to benefit from similar interaction.
Alex Marshall, Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable commented, “The Junior PCSO Scheme is a great way to breakdown the barriers between uniformed policing and young children. I’ve received some really positive feedback from my own staff so far, who believe the scheme is truly worthwhile. I’ve also had a great response from parents, who really feel involved. This is a much healthier way of working in the local community.”
The young volunteers meet once a week, working together to improve the local environment by litter picking, cleaning off graffiti and general care for their neighbourhood. Afterwards, there’s an opportunity for them to take part in fun, sporting activities including abseiling, rock climbing, and other outdoor games, in a safe and controlled environment. There are also regular presentations from the Fire Service and other organisations, who educate Junior PCSO’s on real life scenarios.
Swaythling, working in partnership with other Housing Associations, helps to fund the scheme, providing high visibility uniforms and contributing towards keeping it running. Talking about the objectives behind the Junior PCSO Scheme, John McMannus, Housing Officer for Swaythling said, “It raises social awareness and teaches young children about the implications of their actions; focussing on preventing abusive behaviour and property damage, and the value of having respect for themselves and others, and their surroundings.”
In Northam, statistics demonstrate a significant decrease in reports of anti-social behaviour since the scheme began in 2007, with a record 470 incidences in 2006/07 to just 270 in 2008/09. Sergeant Dick Partridge, Southampton Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, Hampshire Constabulary said, “One PCSO manages each scheme with the support from senior managers, and they arrange their occupational duties to be able to run the weekly activity. Since working with youngsters to educate them on good citizenship and to have pride in their neighbourhood; we’ve seen a reduction in juvenile nuisance over the last few years.”
The DVD will premiere on February 18th at 11:00am, at The Harbour Lights Cinema, 3 Ocean Way, Town Quay, Southampton SO14 3TJ. If you would like a copy or for more information, please contact Jade Missen, Community Development Officer, Swaythling Housing Society on 02380 628170.