Team of the year award for South Ayrshire police

PC Ben Brizell collects the award
PC Ben Brizell collects the award

A partnership initiative between Police Scotland and South Ayrshire Council has scooped an award for its work with young people to improve their knowledge of new psychoactive substances (NPS).

The work of Police Scotland and South Ayrshire Council was recognised at the Scottish Policing Excellence Awards at the Scottish Police College.

Local teenagers worked in conjunction with campus officers to produce a hard-hitting video that challenges misconceptions around new psychoactive substances and so called ‘legal highs’. This then became part of the local authority’s Personal and Social Education curriculum.

Through their hard work, the ‘Team of the Year’ category was awarded to the South Ayrshire Campus Officers by Chief Constable Phil Gormley.

Funded partly through Police Scotland’s ‘Choices for Life’ and South Ayrshire Council, the video was created by senior pupils from six South Ayrshire secondary schools and specifically addresses the commonly-held myth that ‘legal means safe’ when talking about so-called ‘legal highs’.

‘Choices for Life’ is a diversionary and educational initiative delivered by Police Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government and supported by Young Scot. Its main objective is to raise awareness amongst 11-18 year olds regarding the risks and dangers of substance misuse including smoking, alcohol, NPS and drugs, empowering young people to make informed decisions when faced with challenging situations. This video was showcased at all South Ayrshire Schools as part of Personal and Social Education classes to supplement the existing Choice for Life resources (http://young.scot/choices-for-life). Teachers and campus police officers use the programme to raise awareness of the risks of substance misuse.

The driving force behind this initiative was Police Constable Ben Brizell, a Campus Officer based at Ayr Academy. Working in partnership with South Ayrshire Council Education Services, South Ayrshire Community Safety, Scottish Ambulance Service and University of West of Scotland, pupils were recruited pupils from local secondary schools to write, perform and film an original music video designed to highlight the dangers around New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). The pupils involved learned valuable skills in all areas of film making while learning how to stay safe. The video is available on YouTube, Choices for Life and Police Scotland social media and is used to support existing educational resources.

Constable Ben Brizell, Campus Officer based at Ayr Academy said today:

“I am so proud that the pupils selected for this project responded so effectively to the brief set by Choices for Life. It is through their determination and hard work that this project has been a success. They will be delighted when I tell them we’ve won the Team of the Year!

“We have designed a hard-hitting film which demonstrates the possible physical and legal consequences of experimenting with NPS or so-called ‘legal highs’.

“There have been occasions where people have become seriously ill when they have taken NPS and the truth of the matter is that people don’t know what they are taking and don’t know what it will do to them. I’m proud that the film separates the fact from the fiction and provides young people with information which helps them make healthy and informed choices.”