North Yorkshire Police are increasingly embedding prevention and early intervention as a central theme running through all their activity. The force has launched a number of initiatives with the objective of reducing harm to individuals and communities. The following initiatives highlight some of the force’s activities.
Activities and Results
Cops vs Kids
In summer 2021, NYP launched an initiative, in partnership with British E-sports Association, designed to build trust and confidence with vulnerable young people through engagement. This cohort was involved in antisocial behaviour, regularly going missing and/or were generally mistrustful of the police and other authorities. The scheme entailed officers and PCSOs meeting with the young people in a neutral environment and playing competitive video games. A relatively simple intervention resulted in increased engagement between the young people and the officers involved, and a positive impact on antisocial behaviour and school exclusions. An evaluation report is under way, with the view of expanding the scheme. There has been interest from other forces, and PREVENT (a programme safeguarding young people from being drawn into terrorism), in adopting this approach.
The police are focusing on prevention and harm reduction in relation to violence against women and girls. Through the Pubwatch initiative the force have been training door staff to be able to spot signs of abuse, increasing the chance of early intervention. They have also been encouraging restaurants and bars to use nationwide programs such as Ask for Angela. This approach has initiated a series of positive interventions reducing harm and improving safety.
Early Action Together
The force’s Partnership Hub is developing a preventive place-based policing approach, working hand in hand with partners to develop a broad understanding of diverse community needs. The aim is to build trust with communities and intervene early with the most appropriate resources, before issues escalate. This approach will also encourage the public to be more resourceful – solving issues before requiring public services.
The entire force is going through new training over the next three years, with the first stage completed at the beginning of 2021. The training will embed and enhance use of the SARA1 approach to problem solving. It will also involve sharing lived experiences of victims and perpetrators to demonstrate how police interactions can impact self-esteem and wellbeing, and potentially longer-term life choices. Highlighting this in training helps to build a more trauma and vulnerability informed force. Overall, the training has been well received and the feedback has been positive.
Methods for measuring the impact of prevention are in their infancy. Therefore, it is difficult for individual forces to evaluate their initiatives in order to understand what works, and develop the case for further investment.
Also, as embedding prevention is an innovative approach, forces are having to design new training, support and evaluation from scratch to begin shifting mindsets and culture to become more prevention-orientated.
North Yorkshire Police is now looking to learn from its work on prevention, and develop its approaches. They are one of several forces pursuing a more prevention-oriented model, and we share other examples of developing practice below.