A former police officer is helping to deter youngsters from a life of crime by giving them an insight into prison life.
Mick Amos has begun a tour of primary schools with his HMP Not-4-Me roadshow, complete with full-size replica prison cell.
He left West Yorkshire Police as a community liaison officer a year ago, and his new venture aims to teach pupils about crime and consequences before they reach the age of criminal responsibility, which is 10 years old.
Year five pupils get to wear a prison uniform, learn about prison custody procedures, have a ‘prison cell experience’ and do activities based around drugs and drink, as well as a taste of crime scene investigation.
He said: “The reason I have set this up is because if children can be arrested at 10, I believe they need advice on social responsibilities so they have a chance to conform, and not get in trouble with the law, which would affect the rest of their lives.
“They might be doing things that they think are mischievous, when in fact their behaviour amounts to a crime. It’s no good starting to learn about this kind of thing in secondary school. It could be too late by then.”
Mr Amos was a police officer for 10 years and can often be seen playing one as an extra on Coronation Street.
He even appeared in the soap’s 50th anniversary ‘tram crash’ episode.
He added: “I have a wealth of knowledge and experience about children’s safety, welfare, social problems, crime prevention and the criminal justice system, which has all gone into developing this educational day, and my work as an extra always proves to be a popular talking point with classes.”
Mr Amos also conducted a lot of research, including prison visits, visits to young offenders institutions and speaking to magistrates.
He is funding the venture himself and his tour of the district’s schools begins today with an event at Flanshaw J&I School in Wakefield, where he was also a pupil.
Mr Amos hopes to roll the programme out to other areas eventually too.
For more information visit www.hmpnot4me.org or call 07747 168024.