Tuesday, March 11, 2014
POLICE will try to show hard-to-reach youths they are ‘friend not foe’ by spending hundreds of pounds to turn part of the seafront into a scooter and BMX park for a day.
Sergeant Andy Squires this week announced plans for the first Sidmouth Scooter and BMX Jam on April 5 – and hopes it will become an annual festivity. The event, laid on by the town’s neighbourhood policing team, is a novel attempt to engage youngsters who normally avoid officers to increase their safety and tackle anti-social behaviour.
World-renowned supplier Madd Gear Pro will erect temporary ramps at the turning circle of the Ham and five of its professional riders will put on displays, offer free lessons, competitions and give out merchandise.
It is hoped the event will give police the chance to speak to youngsters about issues such as the dangers of underage drinking and legal highs, as well as give advice on how to keep themselves safe.
Town councillors were so impressed by the ‘fantastic’ idea they gave Sgt Squires an unprecedented round of applause after hearing of the plan at their meeting on Monday.
“If we can get young people engaged with us and show police aren’t their enemies by providing this, there might be a bit of benefit to us all,” said Sgt Squires.
The initiative has come about after the superintendant in charge of Exeter, East and Mid Devon made funding available to engage with hard-to-reach communities.
Sgt Squires said that, in Sidmouth, it is 12 to 17-year-olds and officers rarely get the chance to speak to them.
“We need to come across as friends not foe,” he said.
“They [generally] have a passion for scooting and BMX riding.
“The event will present a forum for young people to be approached.”
Sgt Squires has secured a road closure for the eastern end of the seafront for the £500 event - which takes place on the first Saturday of the Easter school holidays.
His bosses are so impressed they have provided an extra £250, which will be used for a future scheme.
There will be a barbecue at the angling club on April 5 and any profits will go to the scouts and guides.
The Scooter and BMX Jam will take place from 10am to 4pm and more information will follow in future editions of the Herald.
What do readers think of the idea? Email firstname.lastname@example.org