POLICE are encouraging young people in Larne to make their voices heard by taking part in a school surgery pilot scheme.
Neighbourhood policing officers hope the initiative will give local pupils an opportunity to raise any issues relating to community safety, crime or any other matters in a friendly and familiar environment.
Inspector Noel Rogan said: “Police surgeries regularly take place across the district at community centres, shopping centres or on the street. In most cases we find that it is adults who come along to these events and we wanted to give young people the chance to voice their opinions, get to know their local officers and have a positive influence on local issues. Our policing service is for all members of the community, young and old alike.”
The scheme has been operating successfully at Larne High School for the past year, and officers aims to roll the surgeries out to other local schools as well.
Insp Rogan added: “Once a month, we visit the school during lunch time, meet pupils and have a very informal chat about any issues they’re concerned with. These could range from talking about the type of work we do, discussing road laws with those about to take their driving test to more sensitive issues such as problems affecting their quality of life.
“The pupils are now engaging much more with their local officers and recognise us when we’re out and about in their neighbourhoods. Post-primary school is a really influential time in a young adult’s life and I feel it is important that we are a positive influence within it.”
John Nicholl, vice-principal of Larne High, said the school was “delighted” to be included in the pilot scheme and viewed it as an opportunity to develop further links with the local community.
“The young people really enjoy having the chance to chat with the officers and to ask questions in an informal setting.
“Barriers have been broken down and confidence strengthened as we prepare our students to take their place in the community,” Mr Nicholl concluded.