Blurring the Boundaries continues : Policing, Boxing and Youth Work

Thanks to supporters for the following examples of the continuing blurring of boundaries about what might be meant by youth work.

Derbyshire seems intent on leading the way.

On the Derbyshire Constabulary web site we find

Youth club offers activities for youngsters in Grassmoor

Police in Grassmoor are inviting local youngsters to take part in activities at a monthly youth club.
The club, which is run by officers from the local Safer Neighbourhood policing team, was first launched in September 2011.
It is based at Grassmoor Community Centre, on New street, and is open to young people aged between 7 and 11. [my bold italics!]

The youth club has previously been funded by both the Police and Grassmoor Parish Council and was set up in response to priorities that were set by local residents after an increase in anti-social behaviour in some parts of the village.
PCSO James Land from the Holmewood, Grassmoor, Calow, and Arkwright Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The club has become more and more successful by engaging with the young people of Grassmoor.
“It provides youngsters with the opportunity to socialise in a safe environment while taking part in positive and fun activities and to keep a positive relationship between the police and young people.”

Fifty new volunteers trained to give Ozbox sessions

Fifty volunteers have attended a three-day course at Chesterfield Police Station to allow them to deliver Ozbox sessions across the county. Ozbox-volunteer-course

The course is the latest sport/citizenship programme produced by the Police Community Clubs of Great Britain (PCCGB) as part of their Contender Plus programme.The course included information on gang affiliation, gun and knife crime, alcohol and drug misuse and anti-social behaviour. Training was also given in both first-aid and safeguarding issues around the welfare and well-being of children and young people as well as basic boxing skills.

“Ozbox programmes give the youth of Derbyshire somewhere safe, warm and welcoming to go in the evening, whilst using the boxing theme as a conduit to get them involved in pro-active activities across the county.”

Displaying senior management’s disdain for history Ian Thomas, the County Council’s Strategic Director for children and younger adults informs us, “It is one of many new ideas we are using to get our youngsters into positive activities.”

If he could spare a moment from being innovative he would do well to read

Medicine, Sport and the Body: A Historical Perspective

Importantly, for its future survival during the nineteenth and for most of the twentieth century, boxing was part of the curriculum at public schools. Students were inculcated with a sense that boxing was the noble art that had character-building qualities. It was vital to the virility of the British male race and supposedly imbued the principle of fair play. Boxing was inscribed with English virtues. In 1864 it was described as a manly exercise in which fists were regarded as natural weapons.

Or, turning across the sea and the trailer does not show the the boxing ring or the basketball court as the escape route , he could watch the fight to rescue the Dead End Kids in the classic 1938 ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’.


Back nearly forty years ago I was part of a growing  and heated debate about whether boxing should be allowed in youth clubs. Indeed I think the CYWU in the 80’s passed a motion condemning boxing as a dangerous and machismo activity. Whatever the pros and cons of what might be criticised as a preciously politically correct position it illustrates that putting forward boxing as a cure for anti-social behaviour is as old as the Acropolis and hardly in itself youth work.

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