The Metropolitan Police Service are working with national charity YGAM (the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust) to support their Safer School Partnerships and Youth Engagement Teams about how to identify and prevent gambling and gaming related harm among young people.
The initiative is part of the Met Police commitment to delivering The London Mayor’s Police & Crime Plan, which includes keeping children and young people safe. Since 2010, the Met Police have more than doubled the number of youth officers across London and currently have more than 400 officers dedicated to youth engagement and school-focused roles.
Over 50 officers from the Met Police took part in the specialised training provided by YGAM covering how young people are increasingly exposed to gaming and gambling online whilst how to support young people in making safer choices and prevent future harm. The workshop included evidence-led and evaluated materials that will directly complement the existing youth engagement work the Met Police continues to carry out across London Boroughs.
New research released last week by the Gambling Commission (Young people and gambling 2020) revealed that 37% of 11-16 year olds in England and Scotland have gambled in the last 12 months.
PS Paul Connolly, from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Youth Strategy, Engagement & Schools team said: “This training is part of an ongoing relationship between YGAM and the MET Police, building on training which was delivered earlier this year. This training is very well received by our police officers, enhancing their youth base roles working within primary, secondary schools and PRUs across London.”
“The training provides us with the tools to help us to better understand the wider issues and consequences surrounding gambling and gaming amongst young people. Our officers gain access to high-quality resources, such as innovative activities and lesson plans for our officers to share with teachers, youth workers or even deliver for themselves with the aim of educating and safeguarding young people. Additionally, the workshop is assured which enabled our officers to receive formal recognition upon competition and further demonstrates the value of this training.”
A Safer Schools Police Officer for Southwark said: “I am a schools officer to three schools with approximately 4500 students. I thought this session from YGAM was excellent and one of the best training sessions I have ever had. I will be putting sessions together from these resources that I can deliver to the students. By having open discussions, it could open the door for students who are struggling in silence.”
Another Safer Schools Police Officer for North East and Waltham Forest said: “I absolutely believe it’s important to learn about gambling and gaming-related harm and what we can do to safeguard young people. The matter is very complex, but I believe that the resources provided by YGAM will positively affect these young people in their decision making.
“I would recommend that this training is delivered to all educational establishments. It shows how society has changed over a couple of generations and the new risks that come with readily accessible portable online gaming.”
Rebecca Mark, the Head of Education Delivery (South) for YGAM, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Met Police once again. Since delivering several face-to-face training sessions for their Youth Engagement, Safer Schools and Cadets teams last year, we have taken our training online. During the training session we will share our fantastic bank of resources and activities. These have been developed to be age appropriate and facilitate purposeful conversations regarding the potential risks of gaming and gambling with the young people the Met Police work with across London.”
She continued: “We look forward to a lasting and productive relationship with the police officers who are in the ideal position to deliver our educational and harm prevention sessions alongside teachers and youth workers.”
Additionally, YGAM has recently accelerated a digital transformation of its content to provide 90-minute online workshops to any organisation that works with young or vulnerable people. These workshops include information on the signs of harm to look out for and where to find specialist support.
YGAM are working in partnership with GamCare to deliver the ‘Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme’ supported by members of the Betting & Gaming Council.