Lewisham youth panel to advise police has met for the first time

The first youth panel in Lewisham to advise police on issues that matter to their peers has met for the first time.

The Met’s first south east Independent Youth Advisory Group (YIAG) panel met including young people from Greenwich, Lewisham and Bexley on Monday, September 28 to advise local officers about policing and social issues.

A group of 12 teenagers aged 13-18 have held monthly virtual chats where they discuss topics including protests, police stop and search tactics, and police talks in schools.

The Met’s South East Command Unit’s Safer Schools Sergeant, Aaron King, contacted schools and youth organisations inviting them to tell young people interested in advising the police to come forward, then picked 12 for the panel.

They have since questioned officers about their work and tactics they use, advised them on ways to engage with young people, and observed demonstrations by specialist officers about the work of the Met.

The youngest member Emmerson Sutton, 13, said: “We must ensure that youth voices are heard. I am working on initiatives to build up positive community relations between the police and the teenage citizens within the London Borough of Lewisham.”

Sergeant King said: “It’s vital that young people have confidence in the police and this panel not only helps build that confidence, but also helps us understand what matters to young south east Londoners.

“I’ve been impressed by the commitment, enthusiasm, and mature way they have engaged with us and articulated their issues and questions.

“Working in partnership with young people will help us carry on using our powers in an effective, proportionate and considerate way, and help show that the police are the public, and the public are the police.”

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