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What young people think about the police

Revolving Doors research finds over half of young adults don’t think the police understand them or the challenges they face.

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New Generation Campaigners

New research published by the Revolving Doors Agency on Wednesday (10 February 2021) shows that young adults and the wider public want to see police reform. The 689 young adults (18-25 year olds) surveyed for the report said that they want their health and human needs to be prioritised so that they do not unnecessarily get dragged into the criminal justice system.

The research

The report, “Understand us: A survey exploring young adults’ views and experiences of policing” analyses results from two national surveys that aimed to understand young adults’ views of policing. The first survey was designed and delivered by Revolving Doors Agency in conjunction with New Generation Campaigners, an independent group of young adults who advise the charity on its policing policy work. The second was an independent poll commissioned by Revolving Doors Agency and conducted by Populus.


Revolving Doors hopes that this research begins a national conversation about policing young adults. It has made charts and dataset open source and encouraged local police forces to extract data and begin to understand trends in their local
area.

Both surveys highlight the new generation’s changing attitudes towards policing, crime, and justice. Young adults today expect the police to understand their personal circumstances and show compassion towards them. They want police officers to be able to identify their health and human needs and divert them away from the criminal justice system and into support. Revolving Doors argue that is vital that the police leaders listen to young adults, particularly those with lived experience of the criminal justice system, understand their concerns, needs and expectations and co-create the future of policing in collaboration with them.

 

Young people survey findings

  • 7 in 10 believe that police treat them differently if they are from a deprived area, or if they are a person of colour
  • Vulnerable young adults with disabilities or mental health issues were less likely to have trust or confidence in police, and were less likely to think policing was fair or that it kept them safe
  • The more often young adults had contact with police, the less likely they were to have trust or confidence in them
  • Of the young adults in recent contact with mental health services, 45% were in contact with the police
  • Although, 7 in 10 still believe that the police are a force for good

Public opinion poll findings

  • Over two thirds (68%) of young adults, and 60% of all adults, think police should divert people into support services if they are arrested for low-level and non-violent crimes like shoplifting or minor drug offences.
  • 75% of young adults, and 60% of all adults, agree that drugs should be treated as a health problem, instead of a crime.

Going forwards

Revolving Doors Agency acknowledges in the report that there are already Police and Crime Commissioners, and police that want to see change in this area too; indeed the foreword to the report is written by Jo Shiner Chief Constable for Sussex Constabulary and National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Children and Young People.

To accompany the report, Young adults, as part of the Revolving Doors Agency New Generation Campaigners, launched a campaign to reduce arrests of vulnerable young adults for non-violent crime, and get police to divert them into support instead. They have designed clear asks for government, Police and Crime Commissioners, and the police. 

 

Thanks to Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona for the header image previously published on Unsplash. You can see his work here.

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