It’s back to the bread and butter of league football this weekend, but we’re also hosting a completely different event at our stadium on Sunday.
The Club is delighted to welcome the Met Police, its partners, and members of the public for a community event called Police EXPO 22.
Our conference events area upstairs at the stadium will be transformed with police demonstrations for the public to interact with, stalls to find out more about the work of the police, and an awards ceremony to recognise the bravery of dedicated officers in the force.
It’s a FREE event for the public, hosted from 11 am until 3 pm, offering an opportunity to spread awareness about how the police can help your local community.
With preparations stepping up a notch for Sunday, Met Police Detective Luke Bailey joined us for a quick chat about the event.
Q: What fun activities can people get involved with on Sunday?
A: We have a few things going on that will capture the imagination of young children. For example, we will have an officer joining us who writes children’s books about a cat that fights crime! He will be doing book readings at the event, so that should be fun, but it also educates children about how to call the police in an emergency.
There will also be an opportunity for members of the public to meet general purpose police dogs, these are the dogs that track people and work at large public events.
There will also be a ‘Beat the Police Officer Challenge’ with members of our senior leadership team in goal, so try your luck at scoring past our Chief Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple!
Q: This sounds like a lot of fun, but there’s a serious edge to it as well?
A: Yes, of course. Our Licensing team will be attending, offering advice about taking every precaution to ensure that you don’t get your drinks spiked. We’ll have safer schools officers who will talk about all of their work within local secondary schools. Police Cadet leaders will be here to provide information about outward bound courses and how you can get involved.
People of all ages can also talk to their local Neighbourhood policing teams for each borough. If you’re a Wimbledon resident and you think there’s fly tipping at the end of your street, or you’ve seen people dealing drugs, it offers an opportunity to report this in an informal setting. The information can then be included in crime and intelligence reports.
You can also meet our Child Exploitation detectives, who can offer advice about keeping your child safe online, or they can help if you are worried about them getting involved in crime.
Q: Is this event for people that may be interested in a career in the police force, or to raise awareness?
A: EXPO22 is for the whole community, not just those interested in a career in the police. However if you are interested in a career in policing, our recruitment team will be on hand.
We will have an area upstairs with police cadets doing live demonstrations, which should be well worth a look. There will also be a general police recruitment stall, which involves the ‘Ride Along’ scheme, where members of the public can go to their local police stations and be driven around and watch what the police do on a day to day basis. This is a great scheme that we are trying to promote.
Q: What is the overall aim of this event?
A: We want EXPO22 to help build the public’s trust in the police, and for them to experience many of the really interesting things that we do. The families of police officers will also be coming along, so it’s also a fun day out for everyone.
Q: This type of event can perhaps let people know about the great work that the police, in contrast to the way things are sometimes portrayed in the media?
A: That’s why we have a commendation ceremony built into the event because we want people to know about the excellent work and the bravery that our officers show in the community on a daily basis. We want them to be visible and for them to be celebrated for it. It’s just about showcasing all the interesting stuff that we do in a fun setting. We’ll even let people use a shield and wear Police NATO Riot Helmets, before testing their effectiveness by throwing a tennis ball at them!
Q: Why stage this event at AFC Wimbledon?
A: We wanted a decent, modern venue with good infrastructure and we didn’t want to be going to a local playing field because it limits what you can do. We wanted variety and for the event to be special.
It’s aimed at the general public, it’s suitable for children, but there will be quite a lot here for parents and adults. If you want to speak to us about keeping your kids safe, or if you have a problem in your local area, come and speak to one of your officers. If you’ve held back from going to a police station, or reporting something online, come down and have a chat. We are here to help you out – that’s a key message.