The Contender Box Programme, to deter young people from gang crime, has been launched.

It is being lead by Community Support Officer for Acton Central Mike Turner with the help of Youth Engagement Officer PC Matt Jenkins, DCI at Acton Police Station Sean Oxley and DI Naz Rana, in charge of dealing with gangs in Ealing, and started on Tuesday (January 28).

To begin with, the project has been offered to and accepted by Compton Close School, in Cavendish Avenue, Ealing, training pupils at the Westside Youth Centre, West Ealing.

The intention, however, is to branch out and deliver sessions within all sectors of the area, including other schools, different community centres, mosques and gurdwaras.

The Contender Box Programme is about learning boxing to prevent youths from getting involved with drugs, alcohol, knives and gangs.

Part of the plan is to have guest speakers talking on citizenship – for example, on how to avoid getting involved in criminality – with the aim of keeping children engaged and giving them some objective in life.

This eight-week course with one session a week will raise knowledge about the sorts of things that can get teenagers into trouble, and try to increase police, youth and community engagement.

Mr Oxley, who will be a boxing coach, said: “We are trying to build up crime prevention operations for youngsters and keep people away from temptations.

“I think people get into crime and in gangs because of the number of social issues that affect them, and they get involved because there’s a sense of belonging to something.

“Being involved in boxing is healthy and still being a part of something.”

Mr Oxley said they are working with 14 to 15 year olds, to pull people back from a stage where they are about to lose their way.

The DCI, who has boxed since the age of 10 and whose father boxed for England, said that youngsters see boxing as their new form of ‘street cred’.

He said the first time you walk into a boxing ring is not easy and that it will be a good experience for those taking part, as well as a respectable thing to add on their CVs.

Mr Rana, explained that kids learn discipline through the sport, it is an opportunity for them to vent their anger in a safe and legal way and that they don’t use their skills to harm others.

 

Mr Rana, who will be a boxing leader, said: “It can be quite daunting as they are out of their comfort zone. We are hoping it will be a success story.

“The leaders are all made up of police officers and hopefully people’s perception of the police will be positive.

“The participants will be in an environment where we are trying to help them; being a coach is all about breaking down the barriers to be able to speak to police.

“We want to prevent kids from getting to a stage where their first interaction with the police is arrest. We want to change this.”

He added: “Boxing is not the only thing we are looking at in the borough, we are considering working with other things, for example rugby.”

The Contender Box Programme is part of the Police Community Clubs of Great Britain, a registered charity made up of members of the community and retired police officers who engage with youth groups.

Lead coach Mr Turner, who started out at a local boxing club when he was 13, went into coaching in 1995 and has taught the Metropolitan Police Team, did the programme about four years ago in Feltham, Hounslow.

He has therefore seen the great effects it can have and hopes the same positive outcome will be seen in Ealing.