South Belfast pupils took centre stage last week as the Northern Ireland Policing Board published the latest in a series of human rights reviews at Malone College.
The Children and Young People Review looks specifically at how the PSNI meets its human rights obligations in some key areas relating to children and young people.
Alongside the launch, the youth charity Public Achievement took the opportunity of working alongside the board to explore the potential of social media as a means of engaging with young people on human rights issues.
Through the website www.faircop.org, young people could contribute to or follow commentary on the debate.
The event allowed a widespread audience the opportunity to interact and view the launch live on the internet.
Speaking about the review’s findings, chair of the board’s human rights and professional standards committee Basil McCrea said: “The experiences shared with the committee show that children and young people can have very different experiences depending on where they happen to live.
“That is unacceptable and must be addressed.
“We sought to engage with children and young people on issues relating to the policing of anti-social behaviour, police practice regarding the dispersal of young people, public order and crowd control, and alternative disposals such as community restorative justice.
“What is clear from this review, however, is that the PSNI recognises that effective policing requires innovative ideas and collaboration with local communities.”
The PSNI’s assistant chief constable Will Kerr added: “Young people are our future and we are committed to supporting and working with them.
“It is vital that they are given a direct voice in the community and we will take every opportunity to listen to what they have to say about their policing service.”
Malone College’s principal Gerard Price said: “I am delighted to welcome the Policing Board as they look at issues which are very relevant to young people today.
“The innovative approach of engaging young people, facilitated by Public Achievement, is to be commended.
“We are keen to give our students the opportunity to have their say on issues that affect them now and in the future and hope that those who take part in this interactive event will feel the |benefit.”