Online forum gives young their say

POLICE are planning to hold a special online forum to give youths the chance to have their say on crime and disorder in north Northumberland.

Five virtual meetings have already taken place for residents living in the Alnwick sector – which includes Alnwick, Amble, Rothbury and Coquetdale, Longhoughton, Lesbury and Felton – allowing the public to raise their comments with officers over the internet.

But now, police want to extend the scheme and have a forum specifically for youngsters in the area, encouraging them to get involved and voice their feelings and concerns.

“We are hoping to have an online forum purely for the young people in the area in the next couple of months.

We are working on that at the moment and we hope to work with the schools and youth groups,” said Alnwick Neighbourhood Inspector Sue Peart.

She added: “The internet, Facebook, Twitter are things that young people use massively and it (the online meeting) might be an easier way to find out about how the young people feel about policing issues and get their views on things.

“It is probably a lot easier for young people to talk to police by this medium to start with. We are trying to get a full view of what the community wants from the police.”

The online meetings have proved successful, with the latest one taking place last Thursday for residents in Rothbury and Coquetdale.

Inspector Peart said: “We know people are busy and can’t always find the time to make it to a public meeting or popping into the station, so these online meetings give anyone the chance to speak to police direct from the comfort of their own home. They can ask questions, raise issues or speak about concerns and will get a response straight back from an officer.

“The online meetings are not replacing the real public meetings that we hold, they are simply just another way for us to engage with our communities.

“They attract a different audience to what you would normally get at the face-to-face meetings. We have had five online forums throughout the sector and they have all had a lot of people logging on.”

The next online meeting takes place on March 22, between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, for residents in Alnwick, Amble and Shilbottle, while people living in areas such as Alnmouth, Christon Bank, Embleton, Felton, Lesbury, Longhoughton, Rennington and Rock will get to have their say on April 27, between 6.30pm and 8pm.

Rothbury and Coquetdale residents will be able to voice their thoughts on May 11, when police will hold a forum for an hour at lunchtime, from noon to 1pm, as well as an evening session, between 7pm and 8pm.

To view previous online meetings, visit www.northumbria.police.uk and follow the links to the Alnwick neighbourhood page.