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World

May 17, 2018
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Police started using football to combat knife crime in London

LONDON: A KickOff@3 football tournament held in GOALS Hays here on another day has won by Watford FC Community Sport and Education defeating the runners up Villiers High School Southall, around 50 young people from Ealing, Hounslow, and Hillington boroughs took part in the tournament.

The aim of the project has been to establish long-lasting relationships between young people and local police officers as a youth diversion strategy, as well as building trust and positive affiliations between the two groups.

Winners from the event will go on to represent their team in the International finals on 17th June, alongside teams from various London boroughs, Northern Ireland and other counties across England.

Officers working across the new West Area Basic Command Unit(BCU)covering Ealing, Hounslow and Hillingdon assisted in facilitating the formation of local teams to take part in this programme.

Teams from Villiers and Dormers Wells High Schools in Southall, West Thames College, Isleworth, Watford FC Community Sport and Education and Goals took part in the tournament. Police Officers from the West Area Basic Command Unit (BCU) also took part in the tournament and demonstrated and ran another diversion scheme called ‘Beat the Bleep, which gave the teams an opportunity to try the police bleep test.

It is hoped the relationships formed between the youngsters and the police will strengthen and continue beyond the duration of the tournaments.

The initiative is now into its second year, with various police forces holding football tournaments in London, Hertfordshire, West Midlands and in Northern Ireland.

KickOff@3 was established by Met PC Michael Wallace and Mr. Ashley Levien who runs his own social inclusion project called 'Suberbos Community'. Both men, who are based in Barnet, worked together to found the initiative.

The Met's Black Police Association have been the main supporters of the project since the start of the initiative in 2016 in Sutton, by assisting with travel expenses and trophies for the young people.

During the tournament, the players and supporters formed a “United Circle against Violent Crime” and took part in a one-minute silence to remember the young lives that have been lost through knife crime.

The winners have been awarded with QPR tickets and training session with the team.

Acting Superintendent Ricky Kandohla, Neighbourhood Policing for the West Area BCU, said:“Within the West Area it is important to ensure that we engage with our young people and be able to break down some of those relationships that may have existed with police.

The event highlights the importance of investing time into our youths and stops them from becoming involved in minor crime or serious crime. This event clearly focuses on building those relationships within the communities and equally allows us to ensure that we stop youths becoming victims of any type of crime across London and the West Area. This is also a great way of diverting from knife crime.

Partnerships have played a key role in pulling together this event and without our partners and key stakeholders; this can always prove very difficult.

I would like to thank Goals for allowing us use of the pitches, Watford and QPR Football Clubs for supporting our event with talent scouts and activities, I want to thank my team and most importantly all those kids that took the opportunity to get involved and play football, none of this would have been possible. It is all about having dedicated individuals to make it happen.”

Ashley Levien, said:"KickOff@3 is a powerful initiative that brings young people from all walks of life together and gets them involved in something positive whilst engaging with and breaking down barriers between their local police forces and those in a position of authority, which I believe makes us quite unique, especially in today's climate.

"The charity awareness and fundraising aspect of KickOff@3 is the cherry on the cake, this doesn't just give the many young people that we engage with the opportunity to gain valuable insight and knowledge into the various health and wellbeing issues that many people are currently going through, it also allows them to give back financially, helping each charity continue the great work they're doing. KickOff@3 isn't just a community initiative, we are a growing family that want change within our communities and #WeBelieve we can make a difference."

Last year, over 600 young people between the ages of 15 and 19 got involved. They raised £600 and donated the money to the African and Caribbean Leukemia Trust (ACLT). In addition, 147 of the young people who attended signed up to the blood stem and bone marrow register.

The initiative continues to grow, with interest and support shown throughout communities. It has helped build links between officers and young people whilst raising awareness and funds for a range of charities who promote health and well-being in young people.

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