How I took over Croydon’s police service for a day

By - Saturday 9th December, 2017

What happened when Croydon’s young people stepped up into positions of responsibility?

The young people involved in the Takeover Challenge.
Photo by Croydon Council, used with permission.

On Friday 24th November, I was one of sixty-eight young people who took part in the Croydon Youth Takeover Challenge. The aim of this new initiative was to grant our borough’s youth the opportunity to play a part in running Croydon for the day. Job roles to be taken over included those in Croydon Police, the TMRW Hub, Croydon Drop In, the Palace for Life charity organisation and even the role of Jo Negrini, the council’s Chief Executive Officer. I knew that it was going to be exciting, yet demanding. Plus, I missed out on a day of school too. What more can you ask for?

I arrived at the Croydon Town Hall in Katharine Street. My friends and I sat down, waiting to find out more. We were given a rundown of the day by youth engagement officer Ally McKinlay. I had applied to take over Croydon Police. Next, we were driven to the station. During the drive, I spoke with the police officers in a very informal manner which I had never done before, something I found fascinating

I was planning on talking with the detective superintendent first, but she was in a meeting. Until then I spoke to another officer who told me about how the police deal with missing person cases, which gave me some great insight. Next came the chance to interview the Detective Superintendent, Jane Corrigan, who authorises police action to trace missing people. It was fascinating to hear about her role, including the role of the media in assisting the police force. She explained that “the media is a great help. It can do things we cannot”.

Young people are sometimes disrespected. We welcome the chance to show what we’re really made of

Then came the most action-packed part of the day: hands-on experience with a missing person scenario being played by actors. Using what we learned, we went through the actions that a real police officer would carry out after a young girl is reported missing in Croydon town centre. We also interviewed the actor playing the father of the missing girl in the case. It felt so real! After that concluded, we went back to the station and took the appropriate course we had learned from the officers. Many walkie-talkie calls later, after a systematic search, the girl was found.

Before being sent home from the town hall, we sat through a concluding talk and posed for a photo all with Croydon Mayor Toni Letts. I feel that the Croydon Takeover Challenge has benefitted not just those of us who took part, but also the wider community. It has also enabled the young people of Croydon to understand what major jobs in a modern society can entail. I hope this initiative can help the current generation realise that they can place trust in the younger generation–mine. I feel that young people are sometimes disrespected, so we welcome the chance to show what we are really made of. The Takeover Challenge helps build confidence between age groups, limiting this conflict. I can confidently recommend to others that they take part in the 2018 Challenge.

Rufus Jones

Rufus Jones

Rufus is in year 10 at Archbishop Tenison's School, Croydon. He has a passion for art and design and a keen interest in history and writing, taking after his father. In his spare time he enjoys gaming.

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  • Anne Giles

    What a wonderful article. A fantastic thing for young people to get involved in!