PCC to launch consultation in to young people’s intimate relationships

The Office of Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner has announced today that it will launch a large-scale consultation in to the experiences of young people in intimate relationships in the county.

Approximately 5000 12-18-year-olds will give their views on their experiences within relationships in order to help shape future support services given to young people in Northamptonshire.

The Police and Crime Commission’s large-scale consultation on online safety earlier this year revealed youngsters in the county are facing issues within intimate relationships at an increasingly young age. As a result, the lower age range of 12-years-old has been chosen as this appears from local and national consultation data to be a key age that young people can start to develop more intimate relationships.

A large part of the consultation will be undertaken through 20 secondary schools using an array of methods across the first two weeks of November, including capturing young people’s experiences through a survey. The Core theatre group will also run sessions for whole year groups to highlight possible issues being faced in negative, intimate relationships.

In addition to this, smaller sessions will also be run with specific vulnerable groups, including young people with disabilities, children in care, young offenders, and mental health service users.

Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:

“Our consultation in to online safety earlier this year revealed that there are a number of issues that young people are facing in intimate relationships. However we don’t yet fully understand these and in order for us to properly support young people, we need to get a better understanding of what’s happening.

“The aim of this consultation is to fully understand the size of the issues teens are facing in relationships in Northamptonshire, and to understand who young people currently speak to and seek support from when having negative experiences.

“We will ensure young people’s views and experiences influence the delivery of the Northamptonshire Children and Young People’s victims service that is currently being commissioned, so that services are tailored to needs and offer the best possible form of support.”

A year nine pupil in Northamptonshire described the controlling behaviours that they had experienced:

“I’ve actually been in an abusive relationship at this age, like he used to take my phone and stuff; ‘who are you texting, what are you doing’. It’s like….I’m texting my friend. 

“And then he wouldn’t let me go on his phone and stuff, so it was like okay…and then they get really nasty and aggressive.”

Individual research from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) in 2009 highlighted the levels of violence taking place in teen relationships. A survey of young people aged 13-17-years found that:

  • 25% of girls and 18% of boys had experienced some form of physical abuse in a relationship at least once
  • 75% of girls and 50% of boys reported experiencing some sort of emotional abuse in a relationship at least once

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commission have commissioned Service Six to run workshops to ensure young people are properly supported and receive educational messages whilst being consulted, which will allow for smaller group discussions where young people can learn and express their feelings about healthy and unhealthy relationships and demonstrate where young people can seek help. Workshop providers will also signpost and, together with the school, take responsibility for taking forward any referrals that arise.