The Working together award - children's services

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Winner: Steve Whitmore [pictured centre, Special Constable, Metropolitan Police Service

This nomination was made by Finbar McCabe.

Steve Whitmore initiated 'Books in the Nick'. This is a police volunteer initiative recognising the needs of children, and vulnerable adults in Police custody after they have been arrested. The scheme provides books that they can keep, enabling a more productive and supported stay in Police custody. The scheme is an outstanding example of Met volunteers working together to contribute to the welfare and integration of minority and hard-to-reach groups.

Through the inclusion of bookmarks, children  are signposted away from Gun knife crime, gangs and homelessness towards local and regional charities offering alternative programmes. 'Books in the Nick' has the additional benefit of improving the relationship between Police staff and detainees.

Targeted at 12–17 year olds, in the last 18 months approximately 7,000 books have been read and kept by detainees and the scheme has been so successful that is has been adopted by another eight forces nationwide. Results from recent research within MPS custody indicate that 50% of detainees who keep a book with bookmark are more likely access charities advertised and 90% of Designated Detention Officers have noticed a positive change in detainees' behaviour, attitude and emotional state.

Shortlisted:

  • Lambeth Children Looked After Mental Health Service, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
  • King's Adolescent Outreach Service (KAOS) Team, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust