Keele Criminology postgraduate student Nicola Collett discusses her new role as Project Coordinator for the Staffordshire Youth Commission on Police and Crime.
I graduated from Keele University this summer with a first in Geography with Criminology, and decided to stay on at Keele to study for an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice. As a Keele Criminology undergraduate one of the key things you are taught is never to take things at face value and to think critically about news, reports and statistics concerning ‘crime’. Therefore, when a job opportunity as a project coordinator was advertised through Leaders Unlock for the Staffordshire Youth Commission on Police and Crime I felt it was a great opportunity to continue challenging taken-for-granted assumptions and find out what young people really think about crime and policing in their local area.
The Youth Commission was established by Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, as part of a pilot project to engage with young people. During 2016 and 2017 a group of twenty seven young people aged 14–25 will canvass the views of other young people as part of the project. My role involves coordinating stands and workshops in schools, colleges and other institutions in order to help the Commission members to collect the views of 1,500 young people, particularly on what they think the police should be doing. This information will then be fed back to the Commissioner at a conference in April. The aim is to find ways that young people can help to shape the future of policing in Staffordshire and support the development and delivery of the Safer, Fairer, United Communities strategy.
At its first meeting, members of the Commission collectively decided that a number of key issues needed further consideration. I was pleased to see that issues such as hate crime, Islamophobia, the relationship between police and youths, and the challenges facing people attempting to desist from offending were all selected as topics of interest. These are all issues which I have become interested in as part of my studies. It was also exciting to see so many other Keele students becoming part of the Commission and taking an active involvement in local issues.
The block taught nature of my MA course and the support I am receiving from lecturers between blocks has really helped me to balance my studies with my work. However, as well as enhancing my studies, I also see the Commission as a great chance for young people – who often do not normally have the power to bring about changes – to get their voices heard. This is something which studying Criminology at Keele has shown to me to be particularly important.