HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by E-ngage Development Ltd

I am writing to you following media reporting of the Home Office Select Committee and the issues around the disorder in various parts of the country during August.

It appears that many of those in responsible positions in a number of organisations have been very quick to point the finger at new technologies as being to blame.

With organisations such as the police struggling to deal with new technologies it seems they fail to understand the opportunities available to them. They remain determined to rely solely upon existing methods to engage the issues without seeing the opportunities and advantages that new technologies offer them.

Since 1992, when a serving police officer, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of organisations committed to developing new solutions to existing issues using approaches that actively engage a wide range of participants. This has resulted in a number of IT environments that offer police officers and others the opportunity to actively engage with schools and the wider public in a safe and structured way that enables collaboration in addressing issues that benefit from mutually agreed solutions.

Not only does the use of new technologies give students the opportunity to establish a relationship with the police in what is effectively a social network environment with which they are very familiar, but it also enables a very limited number of police officers to engage with large numbers of young people. This means resourcing demands are very limited indeed.

This opportunity, which is available to the police service and other agencies, is rejected largely because it is not understood, whereas in Australia our work with the police and other agencies has enabled a small team to engage with over 25% of schools in that country. This has given the police the opportunity to encourage positive citizenship in a very large proportion of the young people in the country. It has also led to the police receiving significant information that has resulted in arrests, and given students a very favourable view of the police as being contemporary, in touch and approachable, all qualities that the police would appear to want to establish in the UK, but without seeming to be able to do so.

With financial restraints and increasing demands we all need to be creative in our approach to these important matters, and recognising that there is no single solution, the need to explore all opportunities available becomes imperative.

E-ngage has a team of former police officers, who have specialised in youth issues, teachers, youth workers and other professionals with appropriate experience, who are readily available to bring their expertise to the issues and can do so using highly innovative and cost effective means.

September 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011