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Police boss finds hate crime at top of agenda for young Thurrock residents

HATE crime was top of the list of concerns for teenagers when they met with Nick Alston, Police & Crime Commissioner for Essex, at his latest Youth Forum meeting.

The forum was established last Summer to help the PCC better understand the needs of young people in relation to crime and policing.

The most recent meeting of the group – which includes teenagers from Grays, Southend, Basildon, Harlow and Chelmsford – saw them meeting with Nick at the One Stop Shop in Orsett Road, Grays to discuss the matters concerning them most.

Hate crime was at the forefront of the debate, with the youngsters sharing their first-hand experience of racially motivated offences in particular.

Many had been victims of racist abuse and language and some members of the group expressed concerns about their perceived rise in Islamophobia following recent terrorist incidents in Europe and Australia.

A number of young people also told Nick that they felt teachers did not have the skills or confidence to challenge racist behaviour in schools.

The PCC said: "This session with the Youth Forum proved, yet again, to be enlightening with a thoughtful and serious debate around some very challenging subjects.

"The issue of hate crime is of real concern to me and it was distressing to hear that so many members of this Youth Forum had been victims of this type of offence.

"I believe young people in Essex have a crucial role to play in leading work in this area, particularly with regard to educating people and challenging stereotypes, and I look forward to developing this key work with the members of the Youth Forum.”

The PCC is now working with the Youth Forum to create a project tackling hate crime in Essex over the coming months.

Founding members of the forum have already produced a film in conjunction with the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner, which captures the views of young people around the county on their experience and perception of crime and safety in their areas.

This research continues to inform discussions and debate on how to better police and protect young people in the county. The film can be viewed here http://www.essex.pcc.police.uk/2014/10/a-new-film-captures-the-voices-of-our-young-people/.

The latest meeting of the Youth Forum took place on Thursday January 29.

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