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National Crimebeat Awards 2019

It was an absolute pleasure to attend the National Crimebeat Awards in London on 13th March, alongside two fantastic teams from Hertfordshire who had made it through to the Finals. National Crimebeat is the youth crime prevention charity of the High Sheriffs’ Association in England and Wales. The purpose of National Crimebeat is to provide High Sheriffs with an annual awards ceremony, to give recognition to the most innovative and successful crime prevention projects carried out by young people. There are two categories of awards: Youth Led – is for groups where the idea for the project came from the young people who are then also responsible for running the project. Adult Led – is for groups where the project was developed by others (adults) but where the young people have a significant role in the management and delivery of the project. The young people can be aged between 5 and 25 years. The Awards panel look for projects that have a beneficial effect on the community and are aimed at reducing and/or preventing crime, are well established, and with benefits already being achieved. National Crimebeat is a means to give the young people who are running the projects recognition, confidence and self-belief. In December 2018 I put forward two projects for consideration and was thrilled to learn, at the end of January 2019, that both projects hugely impressed the judges and were considered Finalists. This was particularly special as it's been a number of years since Hertfordshire has had any representation in the Finals. Our Hertfordshire Finalists were as follows: Oaklands College: Project - Break the Chain Following a triumphant win at the Beacon Victims of Crime Film Festival, organised by Oaklands College and Beacon, a victims of crime support service in Hertfordshire, 4 media students from Oaklands College were commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner to produce a short film on the issues of Modern Slavery. ‘Break the Chain’ is the result. The objective of the project was to produce a short film which raises awareness of youth exploitation, specifically in relation to ‘county lines’ whereby serious organised crime groups use children and young people for criminal gains – predominantly involving drug and people trafficking, often involving sexual exploitation and violence (including the use of knives). Expertly orchestrated by Rory Campbell, Saffron Thomas, Zac Matton O’Brien and Blake Max, from planning to filming it was a six month project, and was filmed in locations such as a Luton car wash, a town house in Welwyn, and Oaklands College in St Albans. The students were rewarded with a grant of £1,000 to cover the cost for props, cast, and locations. They faced some difficulties along the way with cast members and locations they hired letting them down at the last minute, but they overcame these obstacles with their motivation and determination. The film makes people aware of what is going on around us. As the film quotes; ‘Modern slavery is closer to home than you think. Sometimes we are blind to what’s going on.’ The film can be viewed via the following YouTube link: East Herts Volunteer Police Cadets: Project - ACHIEVE CARE East Herts Cadets, comprising of Hertford and Ware Cadets (formed in June 2015) and Bishop’s Stortford Cadets (established in September 2018) deliver social action projects and consist of 95 Cadets. ACHIEVE CARE was launched in November 2016. This was in partnership with Simon Balle School who assisted with technology, RAPPAW who provide therapy dogs for victims of crime, Sanctuary Housing, Quantum Care, and Network Homes who provided access to elderly residents who were socially isolated or at the onset of dementia. The project was created and led by the Cadet leaders and delivered and managed by the Cadets. They would visit elderly residents during the week and at weekends for two hour periods. They conversed, played games and used technology to assist in building a digital memory. The therapy dogs were used to put those visited at ease and to engage them in conversation. The Cadet Mascot ‘Mozart’, a cocker spaniel, was used as part of this process as a trained pets at therapy and RAPPAW dog. The Cadets numbered 6 to 8 and worked in pairs with adult supervision. All were additionally trained in first aid and use of a defibrillator. Additionally, the Cadets were trained and given guidance around the use of technology and given training in conversation management. They were also given safeguarding guidance, and were vetted prior to commencement of the project. The project has grown to include other partners and involved visits to victims of crime and to referrals by a charity Small Acts of Kindness. This has involved Cadets attending vulnerable victim’s homes and engaging them in conversation, assisting in reducing their fears of further victimisation and learning to provide safety and crime prevention advice. The Cadets have also assisted local officers with garden clearances to reduce vulnerability to criminals. The Bishop’s Stortford Cadet Unit will soon undertake full training to allow them to initiate ACHIEVE CARE in their local area, with an additional focus on Dementia. This unit, as part of their training, are also tasked to put together presentations on tackling the carrying of knives by juveniles and healthy teenage relationships. Once thoroughly trained and tested, the goal is to send the Cadets into schools with local officers to raise awareness among young people. The Achieve Care Project was awarded a High Sheriff Award for Outstanding Potential by Stelio Stefanou, High Sheriff of Hertfordshire in March 2017.

At the Awards ceremony both groups had to make a presentation about their project to all invited guests and other finalists from around the UK. Both groups did an outstanding job and when ‘Break the Chain’ was being shown to the audience they were so captivated you could hear a pin drop. I’m delighted and proud to confirm that both projects received prestigious awards. The students from Oaklands College achieved 3rd place in the ‘Youth Led’ Category and East Herts Volunteer Police Cadets were awarded Runner Up in the Adult Led Category. Both fantastic achievements and worthy recognition of their hard work. There was also an additional bonus for the East Herts Volunteer Police Cadets - they were awarded the ‘High Sheriffs’ Association Award’. This special award is only given in years where a project is judged to have lasting impact and be replicable across other areas, and where the High Sheriff has been actively involved. The cadets were clear in their mission to deliver Achieve Care to other cadet groups, and to continue with their work. They were also complemented on their presentation and their obvious passion for their work with elderly people.

Sally Hull, one of the East Herts Cadets who participated in the event wrote a fantastic summary of the day, an extract of which is below:

Inspired. That was the only way to describe how I felt taking part in the National Crimebeat Awards 2019. Filled with anticipation we intently watched the presentations from other groups, including those that came under the Youth Led category, such as The Odyssey Project from Gwent and the Total Respect Programme from Surrey. Through these presentations we learnt how young people around the UK are incredibly changing the lives of those in their community, through education, drama and training. Then it came to our category, the Adult Led projects, in which we gave our presentation about Achieve Care. This scheme involved Hertford and Ware Police Cadets who worked with Cadet Leaders to visit lonely and isolated elderly people in Hertfordshire to help combat feelings of loneliness and help them feel more relaxed and happy. Our presentation was a great success thanks to George who wrote an excellent speech to describe the work of Achieve Care. After learning about all the projects of the finalists for the National Crimebeat Awards, we waited with excitement for the awards to be given out. The Achieve Care programme won two awards: Runner Up in the Adult Led category and the High Sheriffs’ Association Award, an incredibly special award that is not given out every year, but was rewarded to Achieve Care for its close ties and involvement with the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire. We were all extremely pleased with the result, but most importantly we all walked away feeling like we’d learnt something and we were all inspired to take action to combat other issues. This day left us all feeling motivated, encouraged and inspired to help our local community. After the ceremony both groups enjoyed an open top bus tour of London and a trip on the London Eye, which was the perfect end to a hugely successful day.

Congratulations - you are both shining examples of the amazing work delivered by young people in our county.

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