PSNI colouring books printed to help children deal with stress
COLOURING books have long been a carefree pastime for children, their pages filled with images such as fantasy characters and cartoon favourites.
But thanks to the PSNI, youngsters can also colour between the lines on drawings of police officers, PSNI Land Rovers and police dogs.
The PSNI has been printing its own colouring books which officers use when engaging with children and young people.
Designed and printed in-house, the PSNI-branded booklets also include outlines of a police helicopter, motorcycle and a policeman on a bicycle.
Some 25,500 copies of the colouring books have been printed at a cost of £2,776, which is around 10 pence per book.
They have been provided alongside 20,000 packs of six colouring pencils at a cost of £3,603.
Chris Sloan, head of crime prevention, said colouring books were introduced in 2018 as a way to "engage with children and young people in a variety of settings and events".
"They are used by officers and staff, including our crime prevention officers, who interact with children in a youth setting, for example, during visits to schools to talk about road safety or about staying safe online," he said.
"Officers and staff also use these simple booklets to support children and young people in stressful or upsetting situations.
"They have been handed out to children and young people who may find themselves caught up in situations, where emergency services are involved, to distract them from what's going on at that time.
"These books have proved effective by PSNI and partner agencies as an engagement and learning opportunity in which wider preventative discussions can be undertaken with children, families and those most vulnerable within our society during events and activities."
He added: "As a police service we are always seeking innovative solutions to prevent crime and reduce harm."
In recent years colouring books also became popular among many adults as a means of relaxation.
Bridgeen Rea-Kaya is a Belfast-based teacher in well-being and mindfulness, a form of mind training or meditation which aims to help reduce stress.
She said that colouring books are a "really good mindfulness activity because it's a way to concentrate your energy".
"I think it's helpful in a stressful situation to help people stay calm," she said.
"It's a good thing to do. You can't just watch TV and play with your phone all the time."
The mindfulness practitioner said that while she would not normally use colouring books in her classes for adults, she found them beneficial at a recent children's event in Antrim.
"I did a day of mindfulness for young people aged 11 to 13. I was doing it with another mindfulness teacher and she brought along the colouring books," she said.
"It was really helpful. There was a nice, calm, happy atmosphere."