A point of view from our young volunteer: Charlie Black
Today, on May 6th 2021, households up and down the country are heading to the polls. A5 polling cards let you know what division you are voting for, where you are to go, and what time your area is allocated. If you were sent a polling card that means, yay, you have registered to vote!
Why is voting so exciting? Well, the actual process is pretty mundane, but it’s one of the easiest ways to have your voice heard.
One role up for grabs is the Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner, their role is to steward the police force, organise the budget, and construct a 5-year plan. Their job is literally to ensure our protection. Below I have summarised the Essex candidates, their party, and their pledges so you don’t have to:
|Roger Hirst||Conservative||1. +300 officers (and volunteers)
2. Increased patrol of hotspots
3. Protect vulnerable people from gangs
|Robin Tillbrook||English Democrats||1. End politically correct policing
2. Grant pepper sprays
3. Animal Welfare Laws in Halal slaughterhouses
|Chris Vince||Labour||1. More funding
2. Tackle violence against women
3. Tackle gang and knife crime
|Jon Whitehouse||Liberal Democrats||1. Increased public awareness
2. Funding to youth services
3. Public health approach to drug abuse
I’m writing this post as young people are slowly being deemed as criminals while simultaneously being excluded from the conversation. Growing fears from older residents over the dangers of gun and gang crime connote young people to being reckless; not really caring about the political environment. In response to the terrorful teenagers, politicians believe it is best to penalise, to prosecute, to call us all out as wrongdoers. Personally, I don’t see how their approach to ‘tell teenagers off’ is going to improve the situation.
Looking at the March 2021 records, 59% of stop-and-searches were of young people (i.e. 10-24), although we do not represent 59% of Essex’s population.
Are younger people more likely to express criminal behaviours? Maybe. Are we just an age group that is more likely to be outside? That could also be true but being outside is not a crime.
I don’t know if I am just hung up about it, but when 89% of those stop-and-searches needed no further action, young people no longer look like innate criminals, but that police are expecting them to be criminals.
If teenagers are to be perceived as wrongdoers, to be even more on edge in a society that is already asking so much, I continue to ponder, is reprimanding us the best solution? Young people are not inherently criminals, no individual should be regarded as a bad person, but people do go through tough times.
Rather than surveying a generation that is experiencing an incredible amount of pressure: a pressure to get good grades, to fit in, to be healthy, to look good, to have more followers, to mitigate global warming, to get a job, to try and save up enough money for a deposit… It may be much more beneficial to ask why they feel the need to behave, to rebel, to express their feelings in a way others find frightening.
I would argue to penalise a generation who is, frankly, overwhelmed, rather than finding out why their suffering, is not the solution to our current problem. To rebuild trust within our generations, we need to be heard, and by heard I do not just mean being part of the conversation, but to be listened to with the same respect as older generations.
Imagine if the funding put towards patrolling could be redistributed to improve mental health services, to reduce waiting times, to provide a space for young people to find themselves. Yellow Door is currently proving one-to-one sessions, drug advice, life skills, and sports groups to improve the wellbeing of young people. I believe they are creating an inclusive space so individuals can be supported and make informed decisions as they enter adulthood.
So please, take the time to have your voice heard. Allow yourself to be part of the conversation that you deserve to be in. Vote with the candidate that resonates the most. Also, don’t forget your pen or pencil, because COVID restrictions are still out and about.