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Police officers acknowledged for youth service award

A team of West Midlands Police officers has won a national award for its work keeping kids safe.

Nick Steventon and John Harford celebrate their award. Photo: West Midlands Police

PCs John Harford and Nick Steventon collected the Children and Young People Now award alongside members of Sandwell Council and Sandwell Children’s Trust.

Together, they won the Partnership Working category of the awards for reducing the number of children being exploited by dangerous criminal gangs.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "As Sandwell offender managers, John and Nick make sure people who have been released from prison do not commit other crimes.

"That means working with the Youth Justice Service and can include putting ex-offenders in contact with other organisations to end drug addiction, get them back into education, help write CVs or whatever it takes.

"They also work closely with young people who are at risk of mixing with the wrong people and becoming involved in crime.

"They meet with parents, social workers, teachers and others, to help create opportunities.

The partnership team accept their award. Photo: West Midlands Police

"Their job is one of the most hidden roles in policing with many people not knowing we have dedicated officers who work to transform lives which in turn, gives people a chance of a fresh start and makes the streets safer for all.

"It’s hard work and not everyone can or wants to change. But John, Nick and the rest of our offender managers never give up on people.

"The judges were impressed with how John, Nick and the rest of the Horizons Exploitation and Missing Team stop criminals grooming kids with drink, drugs, clothes, gifts and attention so they can get them to have sex with them and their friends, or make them commit crimes such as County Lines drug dealing.

"The gangs trick the youngsters into believing they’re mates or equals but really, they’re being exploited.

"As part of our work to keep kids safe, we show them what’s happening to them and go into schools to talk about the signs of grooming."

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill from Sandwell Police, said: “Our partnership with the Trust is quietly making a real difference to the lives of kids across Sandwell and this award proves it.

“I’m really proud of the team who put in so much work in to transform young lives.

“Our efforts to protect some of the most vulnerable young people from some very dangerous criminals is one of the most hidden aspects of policing.

"The award gives national recognition to the hard work undertaken local by police, council staff and charities.

"Every day of the year they are working to keep kids safe and target the gangs who exploit them.”

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