History and development of the Initiative
Concerned about the number of drugs related offences being committed by young people in Bradford, a local Magistrate and the then Bradford President of Soroptimist International became interested in exploring drugs prevention activities. A Senior Police officer was approached who pledged support to a volunteer service. After several conversations, a number of Bradford local Rotary Clubs showed interest in supporting an Initiative and before long the five main Bradford Rotary Clubs, Soroptimist International of Bradford and West Yorkshire Police were working together to develop a scheme.
An innovative approach to drugs prevention was sought and it was thought that the concept of “Drug Free Zones” as pioneered in the City’s pubs and clubs by Bradford Drugswatch could be transferred to schools in the district. This concept was much easier to apply to a night club where access was controlled – however, a school is a dynamic, open entity involving so much more than just a Club building, and as such, the “drug free” concept had to be re-appraised. The then West Yorkshire Police Education Liaison Officer was invited to consultative meetings and proposed a ‘Charter Initiative’ which would seek to motivate schools to positively address the drugs prevention.
All supporters accepted the idea with enthusiasm and Soroptimist International of Bradford and the five Bradford Rotary clubs immediately offered their support with funds pledged to launch and service the initiative.
In 1996, three Bradford Upper Schools acting as ‘trial’ schools had undertaken the application and assessment process, offering advice and guidance, thus allowing for effective evaluation of the procedures and practices of the Charter Award. The three schools were successful and were subsequently awarded the first Charter Awards at a ceremony in Bradford City Hall by the Deputy Lord Mayor and Senior Officers of the West Yorkshire Police. The event attracted high media interest and coverage. Many Charter Award certificates have been awarded to schools who meet the relevant criteria and today, the award enjoys continued support from Soroptimist International, Rotary Clubs and West Yorkshire Police.
Now in our 25th year, we are proud to have launched a new BSDPI brand which has been carefully designed to highlight the fundamental principles of the Initiative. In this new digital age, awarded schools can now be proud of their achievement, and are supported with a BSDPI ‘e-badge’ for use in all electronic communications. Our website showcases success stories and awards and holds all the information schools, parents and the public might need to fully understand the award process.