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6 June 2018, 08:14
Police in Dorset have started carrying knitted teddy bears, which they can use to comfort children in distressing situations.
The bears will be kept in patrol cars and used by officers to distract youngsters going through a difficult time. People are now being asked to help knit more.
Police Constable Conroy, who came up with the idea, said:
"Sadly we regularly attend incidents where children are really having a tough time - it could be a family argument or a loved one going missing.
"We do our best to build relationships with young people at incidents, but something like a teddy bear can be really useful in distracting them from what is going on around them.
"Taking my child to hospital and him being given a small knitted toy, seeing the pleasure and enjoyment he got from this small gesture in difficult times set me to research whether we had such an initiative. Noticing that we didn't, the concept of 'Bobby Buddies' was born.
"I worked closely with my mother, who developed the pattern.
"I hope that this initiative will enable us to work closely with the volunteers who knit the buddies. Our aim is to encourage positive interaction with young people, assisting them at difficult times, or just helping them realise that police officers are there to help them and are approachable, and not people to be scared of.
"It also shows in this small gesture that so much of the work we do cannot be done without the assistance of our community. Providing the name of the person who knitted the buddy, along with the officer who gifted it, will hopefully show that working together we can make real positive changes."
PC Conroy's mum, Tracey, said:
"I have seen first-hand through my work as a nurse that these bears can make such a difference to a child in times of distress, or if they are anxious. I was keen to put this knowledge into good use.
"When my son approached me about knitting teddies, I was more than happy to help and we thought that it might be nice to make police teddies. I worked on a pattern to make the bear, and have found that children who have seen them so far have instantly recognised them as a police officer bear, and have been delighted with them."
Inspector Justin Elliott, of Dorset Police, said:
"This is a fantastic initiative and it's great to see our officers going the extra mile to support some of the most vulnerable people we come into contact with.
"We hope that our community will be keen to support this initiative and we look forward to seeing all the police bears our knitters create!"
For more information and to download the knitting pattern, visit www.dorset.police.uk/Buddies - completed teddies can be handed in at Bournemouth, Poole, Weymouth and Blandford Police Station counters.