Knitted police officer teddy bears are being handed out to children involved in incidents of domestic abuse.
The bears, which are knitted by volunteers, are given out by officers to help communicate and break down barriers with youngsters when police attend after a domestic incident.
Sergeant Deborah Ashthorpe, said: “We want to make children safer, we want to give them a voice, and ensure they are included when we have to attend a domestic abuse incident in their home.
“Domestic abuse can have devastating effects on children and they need to be properly spoken to and safeguarded. We also don’t want them to think we’re scary or be afraid of us now, or in the future. The bears give us something tangible to handover and talk about, to break down barriers, and engage with the young child.
“These bears are designed to be given to children living with domestic abuse, but there have occasions where officers have used them to help children involved in other distressing incidents. The more we have, the more they can be put to good use to help a child.”
PC Aaron Shale, who recently gave out his first bear, said: “I gave out my first bear earlier this year and it worked really well. The little girl I gave it to was so proud and really opened up as a result.
“I told her about using her bear to be brave and that if officers attended again then she should get her bear and they would know to speak with her. When my colleagues re-visited the following morning, the little girl ran upstairs to get her bear and show them. Instantly they had something to talk to her about and they had a nice chat about the bear. This helped lead on to another conversation about what happens at home meaning they could gather more information.”
Neighbourhood Policing Teams are continuing to engage with local knitting groups to gather more bears. Officers give them the knitting pattern and they send their finished bears in to their local station.
If anyone would like to get involved with knitting these bears, they can find the pattern on line at hampshire.police.uk putting ‘bear pattern’ into the search box.