Officers in Newcastle are taking steps to comfort young children they meet during their daily patrols – which will see them carry teddy bears in their cars.
We have been working with charity Victims First Northumbria to arm officers in Central Area Command with the cuddly ‘Trauma Teddies’.
The hand knitted cuddly toys will be stored in patrol cars and handed out to any vulnerable children and adults officers meet while responding to incidents.
The idea of the teddies originated in Australia, where firefighters gave children teddy bears as they fled the bush fires that had destroyed all of their belongings.
Similar schemes have been launched by the Red Cross – who hand them out to children living in poverty and child refugees – and by a handful of police forces across the UK.
Now Victims First Northumbria has collected around 35 hand knitted teddies to provide to Northumbria Police to hand out to children in our region.
Victims First Northumbria has also produced a number of colouring books to hand out to children along with the teddies.
Chief Inspector Nicola Wearing is overseeing the scheme for police and says each of the bears has been named by local school children in Newcastle.
She said: “We have seen this scheme introduced in various different formats around the world and thought it was a great way to comfort some of the many young people we come across in our daily duties.
“Many of the children we come into contact with are scared, frightened and have never had any contact with the police before so they are particularly vulnerable.
“Our officers are fantastic at comforting these young children but these schemes have already proven that giving a child a teddy bear can help to bring them an extra bit of comfort.
“They could be children who have been involved in a collision on our roads, are at the centre of a domestic incident or who have been victims of crime themselves.
“We want to do everything that we possibly can to ensure that those children we do come into contact with have all the support and help that we can possibly provide to them.
“Victims First Northumbria have co-ordinated the collection of the bears and volunteers from across the region have already been kind enough to donate some toys.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported this scheme as it could really make a difference and help young and vulnerable people in this region feel safe.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, said: “I very much welcome this initiative to Northumbria. It recognises the effect a traumatic experience can have on a child and such a simple gesture is a step towards making a child’s experience less painful.
“Our officers sometimes have to attend devastating road traffic accidents or are called out to domestic incidents where a child has witnessed frightening scenes which result in seeing someone they know, and even love, being taken away.
“A teddy won’t fix things but it can help officers distract a child from what’s happening and offer them some comfort. I’m very thankful to everyone who has donated these bears – they will make a difference.”
Ruth Parker, CEO at Victims First Northumbria, said: “Victims First Northumbria is an essential service that offers care and support to victims of crime in the Northumbria area and this includes support to children and young people.
“We are always looking for ways to enhance our support and offer the best possible care to people. Victims First staff were aware of the positive impact of the trauma teddies in other areas and felt passionate about launching this in Northumbria.
“We are grateful to all of the support groups who have donated teddies and are continuing to produce them in their own time. We hope that this will provide much needed support to children in their time of need.”
Northumbria Police patrol cars will start carrying the ‘Trauma Teddies’ from next Monday but the scheme was officially launched at Brunton First School yesterday.
Pupils at the school in Newcastle Great Park, North Gosforth, named a selection of the bears and handed them over to our police pups and cadets.
Now Victims First Northumbria and Northumbria Police are encouraging members of the public to get involved and donate a knitted bear to the scheme.
The guidelines for producing a safe and suitable bear can be found here
Anyone who wants to help, or donate a bear, can get in touch by calling 0191 2219879 or emailing Luke.firstname.lastname@example.org