Police join 'hug a hoodie' call

David Cameron was the first to do it, church leaders followed suit, and now Suffolk police are urging everyone to "hug a hoodie".

David Cameron was the first to do it, church leaders followed suit, and now Suffolk police are urging everyone to "hug a hoodie".

A poster being released by the force across Waveney and north Suffolk aims to challenge public perceptions of young people wearing hooded tops, who are often thought to be up to no good.

It appears to show two men - one in a hooded top and the other in a police officer's uniform - but on closer inspection it is the same person in different clothing to show that if you look past appearances, everyone is the same.

The campaign aims to engage with young people and encourage all members of the community to interact and break down stereotypical views of anti-social behaviour and the people who cause it.

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Det Sgt Daye Goddard, who is leading Suffolk police's Let's get A Life campaign, said: "How often do you hear about older residents being intimidated by groups of young people wearing 'hoodies'?

"Often the young people aren't doing anything wrong, they are just standing there talking to their friends, but the impact of a group wearing this type of clothing can create a very real fear.

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"Young people need to realise that this can be intimidating and older people need to understand that not everyone wearing a hooded top and standing in the street is being anti-social. To categorise young people - or indeed any other group - by virtue of what they are wearing and pre-judging based on appearance is wrong."

The motivation behind the campaign has been echoed by many other people, including Tory leader David Cameron, who said that when he saw a young person in a hoodie, he wanted "to understand what's gone wrong in these children's lives".

In May 2006, the Archbishop of York wore a hoodie which had been given to him by teenagers in Birmingham to address a conference on youth work.

He asked people not to judge those who wear hoodies, as he said that 99pc of them were "law-abiding citizens".

Hoodie-wearing teenagers in Beccles also won praise from police, youth workers and teachers in May 2006 when they spotted an unconscious man and covered him with a hoodie to keep him warm while dialling 999 and

waiting for the emergency services.

Suffolk police have also released a DVD about the problems caused by stereotypes of young people, which has been used to promote links between pupils at Leiston Middle School and members of the local Rose and Sweet William club.

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