A 14-year-old girl from Corby has won the Lord Ferrers Cadet of the Year award for her work on the support provided to young people in police custody.
Lara Semido-Lopes is part of the Northamptonshire Emergency Services Cadets and worked closely with recently retired Chief Inspector - Julie Mead, on a new process for when young people are arrested, known as Trauma-Informed Custody.
The Force detains up to 1,000 people every month and of these, up to 70 are children.
A significant number of children brought into custody have experienced highly stressful and potentially traumatic events or situations during their childhood or adolescence – these are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Trauma-Informed Custody recognises this and provides holistic support to a young person when they are arrested and brought into custody, aiming for them to leave with more support than they came in with. This work has included providing cells specifically for young people which have chalk boards, soft balls and reading material.
There are also videos which are played on arrival which explain to young people what will happen to them during their time in custody.
Lara worked closely with Chief Insp Mead on the programme, providing her with the voice of the child, offering her valuable insights into how young people may feel when they come into custody, being part of focus groups, and helping to develop a satisfaction survey which is completed by all young people at the end of their custody journey.
The Lord Ferrers Awards recognise outstanding contributions to volunteering in policing and Lara was presented with her award by Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire - Jeremy Quin at a ceremony at Lancaster House earlier this month (October 13).
She said: “I didn’t expect to win, it feels so big! I love cadets and really enjoyed this project because I believe I did help to make things better for young people going into custody. This should help them to be relaxed and give an accurate account of the events which led to them being there. My family, school and cadet unit are all very proud of me!”