April 26, 2021. News
PC Ben – story book character joins Thames Valley Police’s ranks
The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has helped create a new recruit for the local police, helping neighborhood officers engage with young people. PC Ben leaps off the page of a new story book as he helps the force engage with children across the force area in time for Operation Scepter, the national knife crime awareness week, which launches today (26 April – 2 May).
PC Ben is the title and hero of a new story book which neighbourhood policing teams will be using as part of visits to schools, helping to explain the role of the police and promote positive interactions with children now and for the future.
The illustrated book tells the story of PC Ben, a neighbourhood police officer who has a busy day looking after his local community. He is friendly and takes his time to speak to people, is kind and knows how to help as he comes across various situations.
As part of the VRU’s work to create schools engagement materials, 2,700 copies of the book have been purchased, with around 900 infant and primary schools across the Thames Valley to each receive three copies. Parents will receive access to a digital version of the book so they can re-visit it at home with their children. Children will also receive colouring sheets and stickers.
Over coming months, a member of their local neighbourhood policing team will arrange with the school to make a visit, reading the short story with children and leading a short lesson, taking questions and explaining who the police are and how they help keep communities safe.
Some visits have already been planned this week, contributing to the force’s wider Operation Scepter activity. A key theme is the importance of engagement and education with young people.
The book was written and illustrated in his spare time by David Bullock, a serving Thames Valley Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), who works in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. More books in the series are planned and it is hoped children will follow PC Ben’s adventures.
The project has been funded by the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, a partnership body set up to combat serious violence, using public health approaches to tackle the early, root-causes of serious violence.
Evidence has shown that early-years engagement helps to build positive relationships with the police and can help build resilience to early adverse childhood experiences. The story helps to promote the role of the police as being part of the community, helpful, kind and easy to talk to.
Sergeant Andy Ward, of the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit, said:
“Building early positive relationships between young people and the police is a key way that we can help tackle the root causes of crime and serious violence early on. We can build trust, confidence and it helps us maintain good relationships as those children grow older.
“The PC Ben lesson initiative is part of a wider project to work with young people at all ages to help them avoid being drawn into crime and particularly carrying knives.
“In the coming months, my neighbourhood policing colleagues will be arranging visits to schools and are looking forward to reading the story and speaking with children across the force area.”
Headteacher Robert Howell, of Alfred Sutton Primary School in Reading, said:
“Our pupils are growing up in a busy, vibrant town and it is our commitment that they receive an excellent and rounded education, while also ensuring that they feel safe and part of their community.
“The storybook is a fun and engaging way for our youngest children to learn more about the role of the police, to get to know their local officers and to understand the importance of being kind and thoughtful. We look forward to welcoming our neighbourhood policing team into the school.”
Picture: PCSO Emma Hickmott reads the PC Ben book as part of her visit to the Alfred Sutton Primary School in Reading.