Victims' Commissioner backs college ASB initiative

Merseyside / November 10

Merseyside Police and Birkenhead Sixth Form College have launched a new joint initiative to teach schoolchildren about the effects of antisocial behaviour, as a House of Lords peer and victim of the crime visited the College to give an emotional talk yesterday.

Baroness Helen Newlove lost her husband, Garry, in 2007 after he was murdered by drunken teenagers vandalising his car.

Appointed Victims’ Commissioner in 2012, Baroness Newlove’s impassioned talk at the College about her and her children’s experiences came as Drama students and Neighbourhood Police Officers prepare a production to show to high school students across the Wirral, using theatre to highlight the impact and consequences of antisocial behaviour.

The performance will be written by the College students themselves as they aim to engage schoolchildren on a personal level.

The Baroness, who hails from Warrington, was joined by Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy at the College’s campus in Claughton as she addressed A Level students, police officers and students from The Birkenhead Park School.

Her moving account of her husband’s murder included telling of how her three daughters, whom she called ‘her heroines’, had to attempt CPR on Garry after the children witnessed his attack.

Since her ordeal, the Baroness has worked tirelessly in trying to educate young people about the pitfalls of antisocial behaviour and its escalating nature, leading to her appointment to the House of Lords in 2010.

Speaking at the launch of the joint venture between the police and Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Baroness Newlove said: “In a dramatic sense, the production will have a big impact and emotions will run high, but it’s also good because it will be the children’s peers performing to them. It’s not someone older that can’t relate to them so much. If it can even help one person in the audience to rethink their actions then it’s well worth doing.”

The Baroness, who stayed behind after the talk for a question and answer session with the College students and police officers involved in the play, continued: “I’ve only seen one production about antisocial behaviour before and I found it quite emotional, so when I was told what the students here were doing, I wanted to be here to talk to them so, hopefully, they can get a sense of what my girls and I went through first-hand.”

Neighbourhood Police Officer, Sergeant Danny Murphy, who is at the forefront of the project, said: “Both the Baroness’s talk and the drama production help young people look into their consciousness and their attitude. It’s not about demonising the kids; it’s about making them realise the effect that something that they consider to be fun and harmless can have on other people.

“Baroness Newlove’s story is incredibly sad, but it’s also inspirational to see and hear what she’s done about the issue of antisocial behaviour ever since, and the help that she’s offered so many children.”

Birkenhead Sixth Form College Principal, Kathryn Podmore, said: “At the College, we endeavour to encourage all young people to be aspirational, positive and purposeful in their lives and to make enriched and valuable contributions to their communities. We therefore very much welcome this opportunity to be able to make a small contribution to this valuable work of raising awareness in young people across the Borough.”

Image: The PCC with Birkenhead Sixth Form College Principal Kathryn Podmore (middle) and Baroness Newlove (right)