Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Andy Cooke has laid down the gauntlet to three other forces to take to the seas for a yacht race next year.
The inaugural Chief Constable’s Challenge will see Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Police, Cheshire Police and North Wales Police pit teams of two officers and 10 local children against each other in a race from Portsmouth to the Royal Albert Dock.
The crews will set off in 72ft yachts on Saturday 23 May 2020 and aim to sail into Liverpool a week later on Saturday 30 May.
The Merseyside vessel’s trip will be funded using money taken from the hands of criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, through Merseyside Police’s Community Cashback Fund.
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: “The Chief Constable’s Challenge is all about giving some of our most deserving young people an unforgettable experience that will provide them with the confidence and skills that will help them navigate their way through life.
“It is great that we have been able to use cash and assets seized from criminals to make this happen.
“I’m sure the officers and young people representing all four forces will embrace this fantastic opportunity and put their all into making sure they cross the line first.
“But with the greatest of respect to our landlocked neighbours, I have total confidence that our historic maritime connections will give the Merseyside team the edge!”
In June this year, 10 teenagers from Merseyside who have excelled in challenging circumstances returned from the trip of a lifetime, sailing one of the 72ft yachts on a voyage from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands with the Tall Ships Youth Trust.
The young people were selected because they are carers for their parents or siblings, or are in other ways deserving due to their commitment to the community or continuing to strive in school despite challenging home lives.
The six-day trip was also paid for by Merseyside Police’s Community Cashback Fund, and the youngsters took part in all aspects of sailing, from cooking and cleaning to setting the sails and taking the helm of an ocean-going racing yacht.
Next May, 10 more young people will live on board the yacht, working in shifts to complete duties throughout the day and night. It is hoped the experience will develop the youngsters’ long-term life skills including team working, confidence building and problem solving skills.
Inspector Carl McNulty said: “The Tall Ships Experience has enabled our young adult crews to build on their team work, confidence and social skills in a challenging setting.
“The experience enables those who took part to realise the potential within themselves, whilst making new friends and acquiring new skills irrespective of their home lives or previous life experiences.
“The skills learned are not just related to sailing – in May each crew member brought something to the group which was shared, whether that was sign language, confidence or the ability to help lead the team throughout the daily tasks. Everyone contributed and learnt from each other throughout this physically and mentally demanding experience.”
Acting Sergeant Maggie Howard said: “Creating and developing this opportunity for young people in Merseyside has been incredibly worthwhile and rewarding.
“Each time Insp McNulty and I have run this trip, we have watched the young people grow into confident, resourceful, independent young adults who have gained from what can only can be described as a life-changing experience.”
To nominate a young person for the Chief Constable's Challenge, or enquire about the challenge please email: Chiefschallenge@merseyside.police.uk