Tuesday 17 August 2021
The crime commissioners have been visiting front line services across Redbridge to hear first hand accounts of how crime affects residents and what causes people to be drawn into committing crime. Commissioners Colin Foster and Taiwo Ademola visited the Redbridge Youth Offending Team together (YOT).
Crime commissioner, Colin Foster, wasn’t sure what to expect when he visited Redbridge’s YOT as part of his research on behalf of the Commission. “I went in with an open mind” he says, “I’m a lay member of the Commission so I don’t have any inside knowledge about any of these issues.”
(Commissioners Colin and Taiwo)
That’s not to say he doesn’t have his own views on what’s important. “I went into the Commission with my own agenda - the broken windows theory” he explains. “That’s the idea that it’s the small things going wrong that tend to create a criminal environment. I was really interested that the women’s safety walk identified the same thing. It was the small things, like the piles of silver drug cannisters on a street, that tended to make women feel unsafe.”
What he found in his visit to the YOT and conversations with Head of Youth Services Chris Ma, was a focus on supporting young people, even before they have committed an offence. “I was so impressed with the attitude of Chris to the young people. It was so caring. The thing he said to me was: remember that these are the parents of the future. The objective is not to have them going to prison or in court, it’s to reach them in advance.”
Colin feels it’s important that he can represent other residents of Redbridge on the Commission, people who like him don’t have a professional role in tackling crime, but who really care about it. ”There are lots of local people with a good will, who want to help, but don’t know how,” he concludes. “I hope the Community Crime Commission can help to highlight opportunities where people can get involved.”
On a separate occasion, chair of the commission, Javed Khan visited the YOT and received a tour of the facility before questioning staff on their work and the opportunities available to young people who use their service. Javed also interviewed a young offender, finding out what caused them to be involved in crime and how the mentoring provided by the YOT helped them turn away from it.
Above: Chairperson Javed Khan speaks to YOT staff before interviewing a young offender.