Police forces encouraged to take up gambling awareness training

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A leading charity is working with police forces across the UK to train officers on the issue of gambling and gaming harms.

The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM), is rolling out its award-winning training to police forces across England and Wales. What started off as a bespoke training arrangement with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has been extended to offer officers in other forces who work with schools, the chance to increase their knowledge and develop their skills around preventing gaming and gambling harms in children and young people.

Following a recent FOI request submitted by The Howard League for Penal Reform, it was revealed that 4 out of 10 police forces in England and Wales are failing to screen for gambling addiction.

YGAM was founded in 2014 as an education charity focused on delivering training about gaming and gambling related harms to professionals and parents working with children and young people. As the organisation has grown, it has developed fully assured training and accompanying resources for teachers, university staff, youth workers, doctors, nurses, foster carers, and parents amongst others.

Sandy Thompson, Education Manager at YGAM, has delivered five different training sessions to police officers and believes the training offered is an essential part of safeguarding future generations.

“Safer Schools Officers (SSO) in the MPS have been a credit to the police in helping to educate and inform young people in the schools they work with and advocating that this should happen nationally. It’s common place for SSOs to talk about high-risk issues including drugs and alcohol and we believe that gambling awareness should be a part of that discourse. The fact that this sometimes-overlooked safeguarding issue is now being rolled out to forces nationally is fantastic and we appreciate the understanding and support that police officers are providing to YGAM.”

Sergeant Paul Connolly, MPS Youth Strategy, Engagement and Schools said, “The YGAM workshop was very well received by our many police officers working in primary, secondary schools and PRUs across London. The trainers are very knowledgeable and workshops informative helping our officers to better understand the wider issues and consequences surrounding gambling and gaming among young people.”

He added, “The workshop offered us many benefits in particular our officers gaining access to high quality resources such as innovative activities and well thought through lesson plans for our officers to share with teachers, youth workers or even deliver for themselves with the aim of educating and safeguarding their young people. Additionally, the workshop is accredited which enabled our officers to receive formal recognition upon competition and further demonstrates the value of this training.”

More information about YGAM can be found at www.ygam.org.