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Kids brief police on hot topics

Schoolchildren from north Oxfordshire have given the police and their MP their views on the issues facing their generation at a special 'Have Your Say Day'.

The event was jointly run by Thames Valley Police and Cherwell District Council, which hosted pupils from seven district schools at an event run at Bodicote House on Friday, 3 March.

The children worked in groups to identify issues that they wanted to resolve, brainstorming ways to tackle them using a £30,000 budget. They then gave presentations to police and council officers, which covered issues such as online safety, bullying, and after-school activities.

Cllr Tony Ilott, Cherwell's lead member for public protection, said: "This has been a fantastic exercise, allowing us to know more about the children's needs and aspirations and enabling them to feel closer to their police and council services.

"We are here to listen to people of all ages in the district, and I was truly impressed by the children's passion and commitment throughout the day, ending in some very impressive presentations."

Following their presentations, a panel of judges awarded a prize to the school whose ideas impressed them the most. The winning team was from Warriner School. They proposed a 'Litterbug App' as a fun, interactive way of encouraging a cleaner community.

Victoria Prentis MP, who also attended the event, said: "I was pleased that students had the opportunity to visit their local council and find out more about how it works. Engaging with the issues that matter most to them is a really valuable experience for children.

"I thought it was interesting to see that the students had picked up on some very important matters, including problems with litter in our local area and mental health issues. It is vital that children feel a sense of ownership of their local communities and the 'Have Your Say Day' was a great way to make this happen."

Inspector John Batty, Cherwell Neighbourhood Inspector, said: "We're always looking at ways to help the younger members of our community voice the issues that most affect them. Adults certainly don't have a monopoly on good ideas when it comes to tackling local issues and we're delighted at the results from this really positive session.

"Engaging with the police and helping shape policing priorities is all part of being a good citizen. The earlier we as public bodies can enable this, the better."

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