St Giles Yorkshire Team Take Part In ‘Junior Detective’ Programme

St Giles Yorkshire Team Take Part In ‘Junior Detective’ Programme

An innovative new project that sees school students become ‘junior detectives’ has been launched in Leeds this week as part of the city’s continued response to knife crime. 

The initiative, led by specialist officers from West Yorkshire Police’s Integrated Offender Management 6th Prison Hub Team, is being supported by St Giles Yorkshire, Leeds Rhinos Foundation, the University of Leeds, and local NHS, alongside a range of other partner agencies. 

It comes as part of Project Shield, which is the city’s longer-term co-ordinated response to knife crime, which was unveiled during the recent awareness month organised by Safer Leeds and supported by the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Partnership. 

The week-long Junior Detective Programme is designed to help young people make informed decisions and equip them with the knowledge to act as ‘knife crime ambassadors’ in their schools and communities.

This week sees nine Year 8 students, aged 13 to 14, from Leeds City Academy put through their paces in the role of detectives investigating a serious knife-related offence. 

The fictional scenario has been created by experienced detectives and aims to raise the students’ awareness of the consequences of serious youth violence and criminal exploitation linked to gangs. 

The group will receive inputs from police officers, NHS trauma surgeons and other speakers with lived experience of gang and knife crime, while they investigate the incident, including forensic examination of the crime scene. 

The project has been given the use of facilities at the University of Leeds and AMT Headingley Stadium for the week and builds up to a visit to Leeds Crown Court where the case will be heard in front of His Honour Judge Christopher Batty. 

The week concludes with a celebration event at the Leeds Rhinos stadium where the first cohort of students will be officially awarded ‘knife crime ambassador’ status.

Chief Inspector Lucy Leadbeater, Leeds District Partnerships, said:

“Tackling knife crime remains a key priority for the police and our partner agencies, and everyone across our communities has a role to play in raising awareness and helping to keep young people safe. 

This is a really innovative project that aims to capture the minds of young people and give them an immersive insight into the issues around knife crime, gangs and criminal exploitation by following an investigation through its key stages and making decisions along the way. 

The voices of young people themselves carry more weight in their peer groups and, going forward, this will allow them to play an active role in support of the wider work by police and partner agencies to intervene at an early stage and safeguard young people from these risks.” 

Dane Weatherill, Project Officer at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation commented on the programme:

“Here at the Leeds Rhinos Foundation, we are committed to extending our efforts of making Leeds a safer city for all. We are looking forward to launching this new project in partnership with the West Yorkshire Police, with the aim of tackling the knife crime agenda, and we are excited to welcome these young people to AMT Headingley to participate in this important initiative.” 

Iain Hadley, St Giles – Head of Service, Yorkshire, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this innovative project, which is designed to create a safe space for young people to see all angles and consequences of serious youth violence and exploitation linked to gangs. The St Giles team members involved, some of whom have lived experience of the issues at hand, are looking forward to being part of this preventative and educational initiative to help give young people skills and foresight to make better decisions.”  

Professor Sonia Kumar, Professor of Medical Education and Associate Dean of Community Engagement at the University of Leeds, said:

“The University of Leeds is proud to be a key partner in this important project, supported by the expertise and facilities from the School of Medicine, School of Law, Careers service and Helix.  

There is an urgent need to turn the tide against knife crime so we are keen to work with partners such as the Police and the NHS and hope this kind of project will have an impact and reduce the violence that is so damaging to our communities.

 We look forward to further collaboration with the West Yorkshire Police developing our shared ideas, priorities and future projects going forwards.”

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