Artist-in-residence to tackle youth crime for Coventry City of Culture 2021

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Kay RufaiImage source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
Kay Rufai will observe day-to-day policing and talk to youths in the city

A police force has enlisted an artist-in-residence to help tackle youth violence as part of Coventry's City of Culture stint.

Poet and playwright Kay Rufai will talk to young people who have had dealings with West Midlands Police and discuss their experiences

He will also see day-to-day policing, interview officers and produce a film to be shown at the festival.

The film-maker said he was looking forward to the role.

The projects, called Barriers to Bridges, is being funded by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the West Midlands police crime and commissioner's office.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
West Midlands Police said the project aims to reach out to young people who have encountered the police

The year-long event starts on 5 June.

The 37-year-old will explore the role that arts and culture can play in breaking down barriers between officers and younger members of our communities, the force said.

He will spend 10 days with police and run workshops for young people who have been in contact with the police.

Over six weeks he will then compile a presentation about his experience which will be shown at the CVX Festival in August.

Image source, Coventry 2021
Image caption,
Coventry's time as the UK City of Culture will begin on 1 June with Coventry Moves, a performance that lasts from dawn to dusk

Mr Rufai said he has previously had residencies in the UK and in the US dealing with gangs, refugees and formerly incarcerated people and welcomed this latest role.

"When I came across this opportunity to take on a creative residency and work with young people it stood out as a perfect opportunity to learn more about the structures and practices that already exist and use my creative skillsets to bring about care-based approaches to policing," he said.

West Midlands Police said it hoped he could engage with young people at risk of exploitation and serious violence to help them understand their experiences and find a voice.

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