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Teenagers learn life saving skills at Harlesden school’s annual police summer camp

PUBLISHED: 12:12 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:31 19 August 2020

Kids enjoy a police led summer boot camp at Newman Catholic College. Picture: PC Gary Weedon

Kids enjoy a police led summer boot camp at Newman Catholic College. Picture: PC Gary Weedon

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Youngsters have been having fun this summer at a police led bootcamp at a Harlesden secondary school.

Teens have a cookery session at Newman Catholic School's summer police bootcamp. Picture: PC Gary WeedonTeens have a cookery session at Newman Catholic School's summer police bootcamp. Picture: PC Gary Weedon

The Met-led summer camp at Newman Catholic College, in Harlesden Road, is now in its fifth year and the school’s head cannot understand why other schools don’t do the same.

Around 50 students aged 12 to 18 from NCC and schools nearby have been learning lessons including emergency life-saving skills, crime prevention and sports activities this summer.

Local businesses have helped donating sandwiches, patties and pastries, snacks and drinks.

One presentation during the five week camp focused on stop and search, led by Roy Croasdaile MBE, chair of the Brent Stop and Search Monitoring Group, who explained the use of the practice, the relevant legislation, what to expect during an encounter and how to conduct themselves when stopped before inviting the students to share their experiences about encounters they may have had.

Newman Catholic College pupils hang out with stars from musical Hamilton at their school's police summer camp in 2019. Picture: Susan GraceNewman Catholic College pupils hang out with stars from musical Hamilton at their school's police summer camp in 2019. Picture: Susan Grace

The teens had the opportunity to act as officers conducting stop and searches, to help them understand how and why officers carry out this tactic and they were also told about complaint procedures.

READ MORE: Hamilton musical stars drop by NCC’s police-led summer camp



Insp Graig Bradley, a London schools and youth engagement officer, said feedback from the teenagers has been “very positive”.

He added: “It highlights that not only is it vital for us to engage with young people in our communities to explain the use of stop and search and their rights within an encounter, but there is also a real appetite for it.

“I hope we have been able to dispel any ambiguity around this tactic and highlight the positives of its use; including that it detects criminality and removes harmful weapons from the streets.”

He said the activities were “a crucial step in building a mutual understanding around stop and search as well as helping to forge better relationships with police which last beyond the length of the summer camp”.

Daniel Coyle, head of NCC, started running these camps in 2015 and offers use of the school site for free and donates £1,000.

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“I simply cannot understand why this cost effective, socially beneficial programme cannot be rolled out across the country during the school holidays,” he said.

“There have been hundreds of situations over the years where the police have helped and supported the pupils of this school.

“In many cases this has meant that young people have been kept out of the criminal justice system.

“In addition, safer schools officers support the delivery of a curriculum on a wide range of social issues from road safety to drug awareness. They are a key element in the life of the school.

“The summer camp grew out of this relationship.”

He said the stop and search activity shows how the collaboration with the police helps the children become aware of their rights and responsibilities.

“An important secondary feature is that police and pupils get to know each other. Potential barriers are broken down on both sides and understanding and respect develops,” he added.

Borough Commander Chf Supt Roy Smith said: “We know that stop and search is under intense scrutiny, rightly so. But we also know that it saves lives and takes dangerous weapons off the streets of London.

“This sort of event that works with young people in partnership is exactly the sort of thing which will help us continue to use our powers in an effective, proportionate and considerate way – and carry on protecting Londoners.

“I am grateful to all those involved – taking time to work with us in a positive way and give feedback to help us continue to improve. This is what policing is all about – the most important ‘Peelian’ principle that “the police are the public and the public are the police.”

PC Gary Weedon, the police school officer at NCC who has his own office in the school during term time, said: “Due to the success and partnership work with the Met police we have managed to create a bond with the students which had previously been difficult.”

He added: “We need to send a special thank you to Honey Rose Bakery who donated 1,000 sweet treats. Port Royal patties, Green Core, Blake’s Bakery and Edward’s Bakery.

“Without their contributions the camp would not be possible - and the police officers once again for giving up their summer holidays.”


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