CHILDREN have been learning about safety and life-saving skills as a popular hands-on initiative returns to the borough for another year.

The Crucial Crew workshops see classes of Year Six pupils from schools all over Bolton attend a series of round robin presentations from companies, local charities and the emergency services.

They get to hear about and participate in roleplaying activities on personal safety, rail and transport safety, crime and anti-social behaviour — topics which are not necessarily on the school curriculum.

The realistic scenarios help the audience of 10 and 11-year-olds become more streetwise.

Lessons will be delivered this year to nearly 1,700 pupils by Bolton police officers, British Transport Police, Bolton Lads and Girls Club, Bolton Road Safety Team, Barclays, Stagecoach and Travelsafe.

Crucial Crew has to last an intensive two weeks in order to provide enough time to deliver the half-day sessions to all the participating visiting school groups.

Unfortunately it means some organisations that have taken part in the past have not been able to commit again this year, such as Bolton charity Urban Outreach.

Chief Inspector Carol Martin, who is responsible for partnerships and neighbourhoods in Bolton, said: "It's our second year doing it and we have 44 schools and 1,670 children that will be spoken to about personal safety.

"We're really pleased to join this partnership project to speak to schoolchildren.

"It's a really good opportunity for us to get to speak to huge numbers of children relatively quickly rather than meeting them only when their parents report a crime or at the scene of an accident or incident.

"It introduces them to us in a lighter perspective and makes a good first impression and hopefully gives them some useful messages to take away."

Chf Insp Martin said the Crucial Crew presentation provides the children with named friendly uniformed officer and helps to dispel the legend of the faceless mythical 'policeman' who parents warn their offspring will come and get them if they dare to be naughty.

Each child gets a information pack to take home with them to remind them of what they learn.

Chf Insp Martin said: "We have doubled the number of staff who work on it this year so one can take the morning session and one the afternoon session so they can focus on other duties around it and are not neglecting their neighbourhood duties.

"I think it is a really worthwhile idea."

Crucial Crew used to be run by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service before being shelved.

It was resurrected in its present format by Child Safety Media several years ago.

Crucial Crew facilitator Child Safety Media’s event coordinator Jacqui Hogg said: "It’s essential that young people learn about safety by experiencing risk in controlled conditions.

"By taking part in the Crucial Crew workshops, pupils were able to explore difficult topics in a fun and interactive environment, with real safety professionals.

"This makes the lessons much more real and therefore, more likely to make a difference.”