BTWSC Because… youth crime workshop
Crime and the fear of crime are of concern to adults and young people alike. These are some of the outcomes from the BTWSC Because… youth crime workshop, which took place in Harrow Civic Centre on Saturday (December 3).
The workshop, organised by BTWSC, a voluntary organisation that uses the creative arts to raise aspirations and promote social inclusion, was facilitated by teachers and police officers. It was a unique gathering of people of diverse backgrounds and cultures – students from mainstream and supplementary schools, parents, teachers, councillors, magistrates, youth workers, police officers, the media, recording artists, faith and community groups – sitting together to discuss the issues of crime.
There were short presentations, which included barrister and Mastermind 2004 winner Shaun Wallace, Inspector Steve Tyler, Crime Reduction Partnership for Operation Trident, and Iffat Rizvi of Sabina’s Trust Against Revolvers & Racism, who was one of the victim families featured in the Don’t Trigger anti-gun crime campaign video ‘Why?’, which was screened before the start of the workshop.
Christian Aid representative Andrew Baker added an international dimension to the event, when he received a cheque of £80 raised from the auctioning of a limited edition of American jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘The Complete Library Of Congress Recordings’ donated by HMV. He asked the audience to pray for his colleague Norman Kember, one of the kidnapped Westerners in Iraq.
Issues raised included the promotion of education in a wider context, which highlighted values; the promotion of positive images in the media; discipline; and the notion of responsibility among the youth.
Perhaps the most interesting message from young people was that they want youth clubs that teach human values. The overall message of the day was the need for collective responsibility in working together to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
“Try and promote good role models and good things, then younger people will try and act like that,” offered 11 year old friends Joanne Broad and Ann-Marie Twumasi.
Another participant, Meera Maisuria, said the way forward was “talking to young people from the age of three or four about what is right or wrong.” Although some forms of music were criticised for criminal influence on the youth, the event showed there was conscious musical entertainment as provided by the Royal Priesthood, The Good Samaritan Music Project, Shimm1, Owen Deacon, and Master Shortie.
The workshop was preceded by a competition inviting 11-19 year olds to express their views on youth crime in no more than 100 words. Interestingly, whilst young people as young as 8 were keen to express their views, some adults and stakeholders felt that “youth crime” was the domain of experts. BTWSC decided to reward the effort of all those who participated in the competition by offering prizes in recognition of effort.
All the entrants who attended the workshop received a selection of music CDs donated by SonyBMG, the ‘Made In Britain’ inspirational book, plus wrist bands donated by the Metropolitan Police. Children’s author and teacher Frances Somers Cocks presented the prizes and donated copies of her historical novel ‘Abraham Hannibal And The Raiders Of The Sands’.
Additionally, Brent South MP Dawn Butler offered a tour of the House Of Commons for the family of the winning entry from a Brent resident, which will be presented at the BTWSC Creativity/Fun Day on Saturday December 17, 12-6pm at Tavistock Hall in Harlesden, north-west London.
“The way young people and adults from diverse backgrounds and cultures worked together demonstrated that collective responsibility is the way forward in tackling youth crime,” stated BTWSC co-ordinator Ms Serwah, adding, “An African proverbs says, ‘It takes one woman to bring a child into the world, but it takes a community to raise the child’.”
BTWSC aims to publish a document containing the entries, outcomes of the workshop and policy recommendations. A summary and other youth crime resources can be found on the microsite www.btwsc.com/because.htm