The chief constable of Wiltshire Police visited a youth group in Swindon last night that encourages young Muslims to be good community leaders.

Brian Moore was at the youth club at the Drove People’s Centre to see for himself the valuable work that is being done there.

Up to 40 young people from the Muslim community, aged between 11 and 17, regularly attend the weekly youth club, with the aim of promoting British citizenship and leadership skills.

They take part in a range of recreational, educational and sporting activities and have also attended residential leadership courses, debating forums, employability courses and been on a visit to the House of Commons.

Nine young people also received Youth Achievement Awards from Mr Moore after completing various courses.

He said: “One of the most important things I was ever told about young people is that they are over-policed and under-protected.

“We spend too much time telling them what to think rather than listening to what they think.

“I have heard really good feedback from my local officers about this project and I wanted to come along and find out more.”

He praised the young members for wanting to become good leaders and said it was important for them to open their minds to new thinking and new experiences to work out who they really were and what mattered to them.

The group is run by a partnership of Swindon Youth Offending Team, community groups, the Drove People’s Centre and the Muslim Youth Development Project.

Amir Ayub, the co-ordinator of the Muslim Youth Development Project, said the aim was to inspire young Muslim men and women to train as youth leaders and engage in positive activities designed to foster greater community understanding and co-operation between all faith, religious and community groups.

He said: “The take-up in numbers for the youth club, weekly activities, debating forums and educational and employment programmes has been remarkable.

“These young people are the community leaders of tomorrow and are setting their sights on a much greater understanding between all community groups in Swindon in order to reduce tensions, misunderstandings and vulnerability to extreme views.

“They are keen to develop a strong British identity and help others from outside the Muslim community to engage with them.”