Friday 14 Feb
Updated Friday 14 Feb 14:17

Met Police Commissioner visits Hammers Community Scheme

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Commissioner visited the West Ham United Foundation in Beckton recently to meet with young people from the local area and observe a Premier League Kicks session.

As part of her number one priority to tackle violent crime, Dame Cressida Dick met with members of the Foundation’s Youth Forum and Kicks scheme to discuss their experiences and understand how services across London can help them to avoid becoming drawn into crime. Dame Cressida was joined by MPS Youth Engagement Officers who assist the PL Kicks programme as well as Premier League and Foundation staff members, and former West Ham United striker Tony Cottee. 

West Ham-born Cottee commented on his experience growing up in east London and the value of initiatives like Premier League Kicks: “It can be a difficult place to grow up, especially these days, there’s obviously a lot poverty and more gang culture and violence occurring so it’s brilliant what the Club and the Foundation do, running schemes like this, working with the Met Police and the Premier League, to give young people in the area the best opportunities to overcome challenges they might be facing at home or school or elsewhere,” he said.

Speaking about the important role of youth community schemes, Dame Cressida said: “I am extremely proud of the partnership the Metropolitan Police have through the Kicks Programme, with the Premier League and charities like the West Ham United Foundation, who I was delighted to visit.

“They are doing some excellent work with young people in London and more and more Met officers working in youth engagement roles across London are involved with Kicks and are working alongside Premier League clubs and young people in sport.

“Sport can provide life-changing opportunities for children and teenagers, giving them the chance to reach their full potential and divert them away from crime or criminals who may seek to exploit them.

“The Met will continue to invest in young people through initiatives like Kicks and through our commitment to increasing schools officers and youth engagement officers. There is no group that is more important in London than its children and young people and as such we have a great deal to do together to keep them safe and continue to build trusting relationships for the future.”

The West Ham United Foundation delivers over 30 schemes across Football Development, Health, Community, Learning and Employability, aimed at responding to local needs, uniting the community and providing an environment for all to thrive in east London, Essex and internationally.

Set up by the Premier League in 2006, the nationwide Kicks programme focuses on using constructive activities, including a wide range of sports, coaching, music and educational and personal development sessions. Authorities have reported significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in areas which it is delivered.

Asked about the impact of the scheme, eighteen-year-old former Kicks participant, Korede Akintunde stated: “I’ve been coming to the Foundation for eight years, firstly as a participant of Kicks and now I’m completing my apprenticeship. The coaches have helped me to gain new opportunities and make better choices.

“I’ve always encouraged my siblings and friends to attend too as it’s always been a safe place for me to come. It’s changed my life, it’s given me a clear pathway for my future and deterred me from going down a bad road.”

Andy Parrott, Head of Planning and Community at the Premier League, added: “Premier League Kicks is all about being a positive influence in young peoples’ lives; building stronger, safer, more inclusive communities. The Metropolitan Police were co-founders of the programme 14 years ago and we now also partner with the Mayor of London; aiming to support 25,000 young people in the capital in the next three years. The visit by the Commissioner to a West Ham United Foundation Kicks session further enhances our shared commitment to young people, listening to the pressures they face and giving them positive opportunities that will help them to make good choices and achieve their potential.”