Community and police play at Selhurst Park to celebrate year of partnership
Selhurst Park has today hosted the Metropolitan Police and community leaders in a match to celebrate a year of partnership working together to tackle serious violence and knife crime in young people in Croydon.
The match, hosted at the home of Crystal Palace F.C, saw the Met Police take on a community team battling it out to win the Matt Ratana Memorial Trophy, in honour of the late Sergeant Matt Ratana who lost his life working in Croydon custody.
In attendance watching the match and supporting the partnership was Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, producers Finesse Foreva, Palace legend Mark Bright and other attendees from the Met and Croydon partners.
The yearlong partnership between community influencers, organisations, charities and the Met Police was created by Community Activist Anthony King, with a commitment and a desire to work together across the borough to improve the lives of young people living in Croydon. It just so happens that today’s match falls on the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, the tragedy which acted as a catalyst for this partnership.
Community Activist, Anthony King, who formed the partnership, said: “Sadly there has been so much negative press around policing, community engagement and communities recently with many statements around a lack of trust between young black males and the Met Police too. In 2020, after the tragic passing of George Floyd, key community influencers, statutory organisations, the Met and Palace for Life Foundation vowed to bring the community together to tackle serious youth violence and knife crime in our borough.
“Today marks one year of this relationship being formed and the start of the journey to rebuild trust, work collaboratively, and give those at risk the opportunity to meet with and engage with services that they would never had previously had the change to engage with.
“Thank you to Palace for Life for opening their doors to support the community extensively and providing opportunities to the young people that need them the most.”
The individuals and organisations in the partnership have supported various activities in Croydon, including growing Palace for Life Foundation’s Premier League Kicks Project.
Premier League Kicks works closely with the Metropolitan Police and Youth Offending Team to use a range of constructive activities including football, DJing, cheerleading and boxing, to divert young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour whilst providing safe, supportive and educational spaces.
DJ Milktray, is passionate about inspiring change in his local community and supported the Palace for Life Summer Extravaganza, providing DJ workshops throughout the holiday course with the aim of keeping young people active, safe and healthy during their school holidays by providing a variety of free activities and healthy meals every day.
The group worked closely together in October 2020 to celebrate Black History Month, creating a film highlighting black role models from south London, sharing their advice to young people and encouraging those from all backgrounds to achieve their potential. Over the past year the partnership has also allowed local organisations to work closer with the black community and understand more around the barriers they face day to day.
Players taking part in today’s match at Selhurst Park were made up of representatives from a variety of organisations which have been supporting these projects, including Croydon Voluntary Action and Mentivity, as well as young people who have been positively impacted by the work of the organisations over the course of the last year.
Palace for Life Chief Executive Mike Summers said: “In the year since George Floyd’s death, local Croydon community leaders, young people and the Met Police have come together every Friday to forge greater understanding, partnership and friendship. Although the journey has only just begun, we’re proud to play our part and welcome them to Selhurst Park today to celebrate the immense progress we’re making.”
Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, who leads the Met’s South Area command, said: “I am so proud of the genuine friendships that we have built over the last 12 months with the Croydon Community. Together we are building trust in policing and taking steps to make Croydon a safer place. All officers are truly touched by the Community recognition of the tragic loss of PS Matt Ratana, who passionately believed in community policing and would have supported using sport to break down barriers and build relationships. No matter who won today the real victor will be the strength of our relationship with the young men of Croydon.”
The commitment of these groups goes beyond the past year, with plans in place to support more south Londoners through a variety of means to work with those most at risk of involvement in serious crime.
Future matches for the Matt Ratana Memorial Trophy will celebrate continued work in these spaces, allowing Sergeant Matt Ratana’s legacy of supporting young people, to live on.