SHAPE Youth Forum members with West Midlands Police representatives at the Takeover event

Sandwell young people ‘took over’ a top-level board meeting to give their views and opinions on a range of issues to West Midlands Police.

Sandwell Council’s SHAPE organised the takeover of a police board meeting for the National Takeover Challenge as part of ongoing youth engagement work.

Young people aged 12 to 18 from across Sandwell were given the opportunity to chair the meeting, discussing issues affecting younger people living and studying in Sandwell with senior police officers including Sandwell Chief Superintendent Kim Madill.

They represented organisations including the SHAPE Youth Forum, Shireland Collegiate Academy, Q3 Academy Tipton, Sandwell Valley School and Perryfields Academy.

Many topics were raised during the takeover, including vaping, gangs and youth violence, social media and Stop and Search Panels.

The National Takeover Challenge was first launched in 2007 and is an exciting way to encourage organisations across England to get children and young people involved in adult roles, developing their skills for the future. Not only do children benefit from having their views heard in a safe, fun environment, but participating organisations profit from fresh and unique perspectives on important issues.

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill said: “The meeting was a fantastic way to hear from young people in the borough and listen to their concerns and opinions.

“The event builds on our youth engagement work where we actively listen to young people to learn from their experiences which then shape our approach. Whether it's school councils, surveys, cadets or the youth police and crime commissioners, we're listening and adapting.

“We were able to answer a lot of questions that were raised surrounding topics such as vaping and knife crime.

“As well as being hugely beneficial for the young people who chaired the meeting, their feedback was also invaluable to us.

“After listening to their concerns, we reassured the panel that we are working with partners to tackle the issue of vaping and gave them guidance on how to report shops that are selling illegal vapes.

“We also encouraged the panel to report crime and let them know they can do so anonymously by contacting Fearless – the dedicated youth service of Crimestoppers.”

Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Kerrie Carmichael said: “This takeover shows how it’s important to listen to everyone’s ideas, including those of children and young people and let them join important talks. When we all work together for a better future, it helps build trust between police and young people, making our communities safer and more welcoming for everyone.”

This is not the first time that Sandwell Council has taken part in this initiative, receiving a gold award from the Children’s Commissioner for its contribution in previous years.

These takeovers were organised as part of Sandwell Council’s SHAPE programme. To learn more about SHAPE please visit the council's SHAPE webpage.

Visit the Crime Stoppers website to find out more about reporting crime anonymously via Fearless – the dedicated youth service of Crimestoppers.

Published: Monday, 13th May 2024