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Continue to educate young people about staying safe online

The combination of a wide amount of research, and Dorset Police having routine engagement with young people in educational settings, has meant that we continue to develop understanding of the issues affecting children and young people, in turn informing our approach.

Young people continue to be over-represented as both victims and offenders, with the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which included a survey of 10-15-year-olds, finding that in 2018/19 one in 10 had experienced at least one crime in the previous year.

NHS and other health research has highlighted that young people report disproportionate levels of cyberbullying with the associated impacts including social anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

The Safe Schools & Communities Team (SSCT) is a partnership between Dorset Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and Dorset Combined Youth Offending Service (DCYOS). It has a remit to prevent or reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and wrong-doing among children and young people and help keep them safe online.

SSCT is the main method for addressing key issues affecting our young people.

Online Bullying  

The team uses tailored methods for talking to young people, from five year olds in primary schools to teenagers.

Sessions look at the appropriateness of comments and photographs being viewed and shared, as well as the differences between an online ‘friend’ and a real friend. They encourage children to think about how to behave towards each other, what to do if they have bad experiences, and the importance of getting adults to help them.

With older children, issues such as privacy settings, responses to bullying, and appreciating the consequences of sharing content are further developed.

Personal safety

Specific programmes include Respect Yourself, which deals with Domestic Abuse, and A Night to Remember, which deals with alcohol related violent crime including sexual violence. Education is also provided around anti social behaviour, including offensive weapons and the law.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Education is provided to parents, children and professionals through a series of courses looking at issues including healthy and unhealthy relationships, grooming and how people can become exploited.

Drugs and Alcohol  

Education is provided to children, parents and professionals looking at the risks and consequences of taking drugs and drinking alcohol, the law, and how and where to get help and support.

Preventing violent extremism

The team deliver a national programme designed to allow debate around the sensitive issues of extremism within communities. It provides a safe space for students to air grievances, debate matters that interest them and work through problem solving activities.

The PCC and Chief Constable have also both provided funding and support to SafeWise, an interactive and practical ‘skills for life’ approach to young people’s safety with centres in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Using full size streetscapes, education is provided on road, fire, water and home safety, crime prevention and what to do in emergencies.  

The PCC has also funded a number of relevant projects through his Community Grant Scheme.


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