What is National Crimebeat?

Professor John Coxhead looks at the history and tradition of the High Sheriffs’ Association of England and Wales and why policing should get more involved in its charity National Crimebeat.

May 1, 2024
By Professor John Coxhead

Police professionals may not be aware that the office of the High Sheriff is more than 1,000 years old, dating back to Saxon times, when a ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible for the maintenance of law and order. Every county in England and Wales has a High Sheriff, with 55 currently serving a one-year (unpaid) term in office.

High Sheriffs offer much potential for policing to help tackle crime by working together in local partnerships, particularly with young people. Police professionals working in neighbourhoods might not be aware of the High Sheriff’s charity, National Crimebeat, but as you read on here you will see both the benefits of the opportunity on offer and how to get in touch to start working together.

Support your local sheriff

The word ‘Sheriff’ derives from ‘Shire Reeve’, and at one time the role had extensive powers, including tax collecting (remember the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood?). Their role was to represent the Crown within the shires, including the law enforcement powers of raising the ‘hue and cry’ in pursuit of criminals.

Over time, the role has changed, with tax collecting shifting to the Exchequer and legal duties  transferring to coroners, Justices of the Peace and High Court Judges. Acts of 1856 and 1865 transferred more ancient powers to prison commissioners and local constabularies.

Today, High Sheriffs support the judiciary, police, probation and prison services in crime reduction and social cohesion. The role is non-political, so High Sheriffs are able to bring together a wide range of people within communities together, and each decide their own contextualised focus during their year in office.

National Crimebeat

High Sheriffs have their own charity, National Crimebeat, to support crime prevention, specifically to encourage new ideas from young people. Last month, the 26th National Crimebeat annual awards took place in London, to showcase innovative crime prevention projects carried out by young people (all under 25 years of age).

The ideas submitted to National Crimebeat were all about crime reduction and tackled a diverse range of issues, from fly-tipping to fraud; from violence to the desistance of offending. This year’s winner was 14-year-old Khan Odita, of Toxteth, who tackled fly-tipping by turning a dumping ground into a community meeting place through an Urbanscape Community Garden.

Other entries to the competition addressed repeat offending, violence reduction, the use of art and music, police cadets, preventing fraud, and protecting against ransomware and cybercrime.

Amanda Parker, chair of the National Crimebeat Trustees, said: “Yet again the cohort of applicants for our prestigious awards has been incredibly impressive. From 25 entries we managed to shortlist a final seven and it has been extremely hard to find a winner among such determined and motivated young people. All of these young teams are winners as they all go above and beyond to make huge differences in their communities but this year the determination of an individual really moved the judges.”

How to get involved

Police professionals are able to work closely with their local High Sheriffs in many ways, but National Crimebeat in particular, as a non-political charity, offers much potential to bring young people together to create opportunities to reduce crime at a local level.

With many public services and voluntary agencies trying to manage limited budgets, National Crimebeat offers an holistic platform to create a joined-up effort, informed by young people. The best ideas for the future often come from young people and having a way to channel the efforts and energy of youngsters to help beat crime should be adopted by police neighbourhood teams everywhere.

And there is an opportunity to win cash prizes to reinvest in the charity/organisation up to the value of £1,500 – not to be sniffed at.

You can find out more about the potential of National Crimebeat to make a difference in your local policing area by contacting the

High Sheriffs’ Association at https://highsheriffs.com/about/national-crimebeat/

You can also check out the feeds and follow on Facebook @NationalCrimebeat and Instagram @nationalcrimebeatcharity where there is more current information available.

Dr John Coxhead SFHEA, FRSA is Professor of Policing at Loughborough University and twice winner of the Queen’s Award in Innovation in Police Learning and Development. He is also founder of the National Innovation in Policing Competition.


 

Back in October 2023, Merseyside Police shone a light on Khan Odita, “a local lad from Toxteth”, who, at the age of 14, set up the Mulgrave Street Action Group (MSAG) to help improve the streets of his local community.

Khan’s first project ‘UrbanScape,’ helped to transform a fly-tipping hotspot into a multi-purpose, modern, community greenspace.

Since Constable Rachael Moorcroft, a local community officer first met Khan at a MSAG clean-up action day, she has continued to be impressed by all the work Khan does to improve his community. So together with the support from the High Sheriff of Merseyside, Ruth Hussey, she nominated Khan for this year’s National Crimebeat Awards.

The awards give recognition to the most innovative and successful crime-prevention projects conducted by young people aged between five and 25 years old.

“Judges invited six of the best crime prevention projects to attend the awards ceremony in London with each having to make a short presentation, introducing their work, and describing what they have achieved,” said Merseyside Police.

“Khan not only won first prize out of the six national entrants, but he also won the best

presentation on the day for which he received prize money, a trophy and a certificate.”

Khan said: “I was dumbfounded to win, not just first place on behalf of UrbanScape but to also take home the award for the best presentation!

“I was ready to go home with nothing as being a finalist in an honour enough, so I would like to send a huge thank you to all the MSAG supporters.”

PC Moorcroft said: “Khan is an exceptional young man. I am so proud to see the work he has done for the L8 community not only recognised on a local level but on a national level now too.

“It is inspiring to see that a young person can inspire other young people to achieve what he has. Khan was up against some excellent competition, and the fact that he won this award is a testament to his drive and determination.

“I would also like to thank our High Sherriff Ruth Hussey for her support and for nominating Khan, along with Khan’s mum Natasha who accompanied us on our trip to London.”


 

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