Charity expands “critical” police-youth scheme

By Mei-Ling McNamara 

A groundbreaking scheme to improve relations between police and young people in Lewisham is being adopted as a model for other boroughs.

The Critical Encounters programme, launched by the Second Wave Centre for Youth Arts in Deptford, was lauded for bridging the divide between youth and Lewisham police officers since it began three years ago.

stopsearchNow the weekly workshop has expanded its model further south. Last Thursday seven riot officers from Croydon paired with seven young people at Second Wave for the first time.

Chief Inspector Phil Mockett, who recently transferred from Lewisham to Croydon, initiated the scheme with his new colleagues.  He said: “Police officers cannot know what is happening in young people’s lives, unless there are opportunities to meet and talk on an informal basis beyond that zone of confrontation.”

The scheme intends to improve the relationship between marginalised young people and the authorities. Ann Considine, Director of Second Wave, said the scheme helps “key officers become much more aware of the power relations that exist.”

A recent survey by Crime Concern found that 86 per cent of young people in London had negative attitudes towards police, and 61 per cent of officers had bad opinions of young people. 

(Photo credit:


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