Gallery: Young Black Males project set to build positive relationship between youth and police

Sgt Darren Oxbrow from Suffolk Constabulary put together a youth group called Young Black Males (YBM

Sgt Darren Oxbrow from Suffolk Constabulary put together a youth group called Young Black Males (YBM) a year and a half ago in a bid to build a better relation with minority groups in Ipswich following a drugs dealing incident in Chantry. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A new youth project will build a better relationship between black youths and the police, improve school attendance and get youngsters focused on achieving, an officer leading the initiative has said.

Sgt Darren Oxbrow of Suffolk Constabulary.

Sgt Darren Oxbrow of Suffolk Constabulary. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Young Black Males (YBM) was launched a year and a half ago in south west Ipswich by Sergeant Darren Oxbrow of Suffolk Constabulary after he was called to a report of a young white man possibly dealing drugs in Gippeswyk Park.

Sgt Oxbrow, who was working on the South West Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Team at the time, said when he arrived at the park, he located the suspect, who was with a young black man.

“I approached them, did a stop search, searched the white lad and nothing was on him, I turned to the black lad and he was off on his toes,” he said.

“So I pursued him, managed to locate him and when I stopped him I recognised him as someone from the Chantry estate, a local lad, I knew his mother and family.”

Sgt Oxbrow said after the youngster admitted to holding the drugs, he decided to deal with the crime on a low level with the boy’s family.

“I went away thinking, how can I do a bit more to help these young boys,” he said. “Historically there’s always been not a great relationship between the police and young black males and that relates to stop search in London, The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, all the things that impact on our relationships have been quite negative, so I thought maybe I could try and do something a bit more positive with these young lads.”

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The father-of-four went into Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy and Suffolk New Academy and launched the project with eight to nine young black males on board.

It has now expanded to involve 46 boys aged 12-20 who engage in regular meetings and projects.

The boys have helped with the refurbishment of St Michael’s Church by spray painting the hoardings with graffiti, created a CD of four tracks that they produced themselves during a music course and have even gone on a sailing trip.

Sgt Oxbrow, who is also the Ipswich Town U14 Academy manager, said: “From there we thought, how can we as a group grow, make ourselves more sustainable – so we came up with the idea to start our own clothing business.”

The group has now produced trademarked logos, they own the letters YBM, and have put together a batch of 20 samples that are being manufactured.

“The whole concept is to have a business that the boys can run, from the IT to finances, to ordering, distribution, modelling, photography, so they learn about all those aspects of running a business and it teaches them how to be entrepreneurs.”

Sgt Oxbrow said they chose the letters YBM because of the groups of people it could encompass, from Young Black Males, Young Bangladeshi Males, Young Black Muslims, Young British Men, Young Business Minds and Young Bright Minds, adding: “The taglines are endless, so it can be really inclusive.”

In the future, Sgt Oxbrow aspires to generate enough money to open a youth centre in Ipswich where they could sell their products and offer a safe place for young people to hang out and get advice and support. “It will also have a link to the police so we continue to make our relationship so much better,” he added.

Jenny Betts, vice principal at Stoke High School, said: “For us, it’s great to work so closely with the police on something so positive, because our children don’t always have a positive relationship with the police outside of school, the attendance of my young black males has improved over this term, they are more engaged, their progress is improving and they keep coming back to the project.”

Mrs Betts said working with Sgt Oxbrow gave the boys a male role model to look up to other than a school teacher, which some of them lacked at home.

She added: “It’s about making them realise that they can change the world, that they are part of that and they are the masters of their own destinies.”

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