A law student from De Montfort University (DMU) is helping shape the future of policing in Leicestershire.
Natalie Harkness has been recruited as one of 30 Youth Commissioners by Leicestershire’s Police Commissioner, Sir Clive Loader.
The voluntary role will see Natalie present ideas for new ways in which police can approach issues affecting young people.
She said: “I’m enthusiastic about how we can make a difference. We are aiming to give the youth of Leicestershire a voice.
“I think Sir Clive Loader felt there was a lot of distance between police and youth and he wanted to try to tackle that.”
De Montfort University Law School is renowned for giving its students real-world experience and it is this experience which Natalie believes gave her the edge over other candidates.
She is also president of Street Law, DMU’s award-winning student law team, who go out into the community to help people with legal issues, and is planning to volunteer with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
Natalie, 21, from New Parks, Leicester, said: “I have always had an interest in how the police work and what they do and I applied. After the interview I was offered the job they said they felt I was a really strong candidate, so I was delighted.”
Each youth commissioner will be asked to study issues including hate crime, drugs, offending and re-offending.
Natalie plans to focus her efforts on studying anti-social behaviour and has a particular interest in tackling cyber bullying after hearing first-hand from young victims.
She said: “I know teenagers who say they don’t know where to turn and my big focus will be to try to reach years five and six and talk to them before they go to secondary school where a lot of cyber bullying happens.”
Sir Clive Loader said: “Involving young people in designing the way policing is delivered is vitally important if we are to rebuilt trust between the police and young people.
“Young people want to be seen as part of the solution, not the problem."