THE Chief Constable of Durham Police paid a special visit to a group of community savvy youngsters who came together to talk about issues affecting their town.

Jo Farrell attended Dean Bank Primary and Nursery School, in Ferryhill, on Thursday, for their November mini Police and Communities Together (Pact) meeting – which saw schools from across the town explore issues in Ferryhill.

Mrs Farrell answered questions from children who spoke about issues including drink driving and nuisance bikers.

The police chief also told the youngsters about her role in the force and the importance of letting their voices be heard to impact policing.

She said: “I do lots of these events with adults so it’s really important to listen to how children feel about living in Ferryhill and the policing in their area. We want to know how we can help them and make them feel safe in the community.

"The children are from different schools in the area so it was really interesting to hear different views from different pupils.”

The meeting was also attended by police community support officers (PCSOs) Laura Fairhurst and Megan Willis – alongside councillors Peter Atkinson and Brian Avery.

Valerie Watson chaired the event and has shared the children's concerns at the Ferryhill PACT meeting.

She said: "The children's views are very important as I feed their concerns back to the adult PACT meetings – working together makes the difference."

The event was organised by Approach Too CIC – an initiative which aims to help youngsters develop the skills, knowledge and motivation for participation.

Glenys Newby, of Approach Too, said: “The meeting has proven to be a very affective way of making sure children’s voices are heard as it starts conversations and helps them understand if something doesn’t happen they know why and reminds them to not take it personally and builds resilience. It also teaches them about how things work in the community.”

Following the meeting, PCSO Fairhurst said: “We work closely with the schools, the council and community and attend all the mini pact meetings.

“We hear the views of all the schools and the kids are really good about talking and understanding the issues. I think the mini meetings are going really well and we always feed them into the adult PACT meetings and then come to a conclusion on what our priorities will be."

PCSO Willis added: "The mini PACT meetings have been going since Summer and have been really positive.

"As part of our job we do the school patrols as well as the mini meetings so we see the children a few times a week which develops our relationship with the young people in the area.

"The PACT meetings give the children ownership. They talk a lot in the meetings about the litter and now know they can come to one of us to take ownership of that litter. The children feel able to organise a litter pick to tidy up the community – which makes an impact on the town."