Posted: 23.06.20 at 12:23 by Nick Hudson
AN award-winning Bedworth police officer who “rose above” being locked in a coal shed as a child by alcoholic parents and left homeless as a teenager has been asked to judge a literary competition focusing on youngsters living under the repressive yoke of Covid-19.
Neighbourhood PC Stephen Croshaw will join a 24-strong panel – including Call The Midwife actress Jenny Agutter, The Undertones bassist Mickey Bradley and Rappaman Donavan Christopher – to choose the most poignant poems in a competition designed to best reflect life in lockdown for children aged between seven and 16.
The My Lockdown Poem contest is being organised by the Children’s Literature Festivals which has a dedicated mission to give an equal opportunity to all cultures, backgrounds and abilities having access to books as well as taking events to towns and areas that don’t currently have representation.
Entrants can write a poem on any subject they associate with the restrictions first imposed on March 23 in the UK. A selection will be published in a special ‘Lockdown Life’ book.
For PC Croshaw, the invitation is another indicator for someone who has gone from unashamedly admitting “sleeping rough” to national acclaim for “outstanding work” with young people and police partner organisations.
He suffered violent abuse as a young boy from a mother who struggled with mental health issues and alcoholism.
Beaten with a bat, locked in a coal shed with no clothes on and verbally abused, he finished up sleeping in a rugby club before the most significant intervention – being found by the police and taken to Nuneaton Council House where he was declared homeless.
The officers signposted him to those who could best help and the 47-year-old never looked back.
He joined Warwickshire Police in 2004 as a PCSO and four years later became a constable in his home town of Nuneaton.
Since then he related how he overcame his difficult childhood and discovered an audience of thousands reacting to his honesty.
He has received several accolades during his 16-year police career – a Chief Constable’s Commendation in 2006; a Chief Superintendents’ Commendation for his work with children and young people around the topic of “hate crime” in 2018; and a year later the Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in Policing and Community Safety.
The award recognised PC Croshaw’s “outstanding work” with young people and police partner organisations in creating educational videos highlighting a range of important issues.
Completely in his own time, the officer – now part of Bedworth Safer Neighbourhood team – has produced numerous short videos of topics from serious and organised crime to health and wellbeing, hate crime, child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and volunteering.
His projects have included working with 16-year-old Nuneaton anti-hate rap artist Alan Lloyd and creating a YouTube video to highlight the threat of county lines drug dealing. The YouTube video even won acclaim from the National Crime Agency.
Several of his videos are now used by Warwickshire Police for training purposes, including one on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said: “Engagement and integrated partnership working are vital to increasing visibility in local communities, engaging with the public and putting problem solving at the heart of what the police does.
“To that end, Stephen has excelled in this approach and his dedication and contribution has gone well above and beyond what is expected of his normal day-to-day responsibilities.
“I am particularly taken by the way in which he has involved local young people in the production of many of the videos, helping to ensure that they are tailored in a way which will get their very important messages across in an easy to understand but thought-provoking way.”
On the subject of poems – PC Croshaw can turn his hand to verse as well.
He has composed a tome called ‘Online’ for the Warwickshire Child Sexual Exploitation group and is involved in a Warwickshire county-wide creative writing competition for children held each year, focusing on Internet Safety.
The closing date for the national competition is August 30 and for more information click here