Young people in north Halton hold a more negative perception of police than their counterparts in the south, according to a study on local youth-police relations. The recently-released document-- prepared by a consultant for the youth-police relations working committee-- sheds some light on how Halton youth aged 12 to 24 years feel about officers and what needs to be done to improve the relationship between the two groups. It identifies that one of the challenges is youth perception of police behaviour, particularly in north Halton. "Youth in the north are more negative about the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS), as compared to other police services, than are youth in the south," the study reveals. "They stated that they also were more likely to behave disrespectfully to the police." It goes on to say, "These differences-- whether resulting from inconsistencies in service availability or from behaviours and attitudes of police and youth-- should be further examined." Other key findings in the study include: · Police and youth generally believe they need to have respect for each other and they should treat each other politely. · There's a willingness on the part of both youth and police to learn more about appropriate behaviour, the role of police and the legal rights and obligations of youth.
Police typically believe their relationship with youth is reasonable and respectful, while youth don't see the relationship as positively. · Relationships with youth division officers and most high school liaison officers are excellent, while the relationships with patrol officers in cars are tenuous. · Youth who took part in the study process made few comments about racial issues and racial profiling, but said some "kids feel judged based on their name or culture." Youth-police relations committee chair Jennifer Speers pointed out the study enables the community to be informed of opportunities to improve upon the existing relationship between youth and police. "This review must be ongoing, and we are confident the Halton Regional Police Service will embrace the recommendations of the committee," she said. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, the study highlights the positive aspects of youth-police relations in Halton, such as the programs for young people that've been developed by police and the community participation by officers that facilitates positive interaction with youth. "The Halton Regional Police Service has always promoted open communication with the citizens of Halton," said Chief Ean Algar. "Community-based policing is the cornerstone of our service delivery model. We have and will continue to look for opportunities to nurture our relationship with youth living in Halton." A survey, which was done as part of the study, showed that youth who have a positive view of police do so as a result of police helping them when they're in trouble and treating them with respect. The study concludes that while there are issues that need to be dealt with, they don't reflect the kinds of problems in youth-police relations that are evident in some other cities and jurisdictions. A total of 650 youth and 154 police officers throughout Halton took part in the study's survey. In addition, 32 key informants were interviewed and 14 focus groups were held. The study was funded by the Crime Prevention Strategy of Canada. For more information visit https://www.halton.ca/scs/Youth or contact Jennifer Speers at 905-693-4249.