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Pioneering project keeps kids of the street

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Pioneering project keeps kids of the street

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Published by Ben Patey for One Vision Housing in Housing

One Vision Housing One Vision Housing

Anti social behaviour is an increasing problem on the streets of South Sefton but a pioneering project aimed to keep kids out of trouble seems to be having a major effect.

Last year gangs on the Pendle Estate in Litherland were tormenting disabled neighbours, making threats, intimidating the public and causing criminal damage.

Residents were leaving anonymous complaints at an alarming level so representatives of Merseyside Police met with One Vision Housing and Sefton Council to come up with a solution.

With limited funds Project Pendle was born, officials threw as much activities at the youngsters as possible and took known troublemakers on regular prison visits to show a life of crime doesn't pay.

Youths were encouraged on fishing trips, bike maintenance courses, shown handy skills and took part in football tournaments to break down ‘community barriers'.

Regular offenders were given Crasbos and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts while their parents were also made to sign parenting contracts and neighbours were sent letters urging them to report crimes.

One Vision even went as far as funding two bicycles for neighbourhood police officers, which will enable them to chase offending youths down difficult back alleys at greater speeds.

Now all of their hard work seems to be paying off.

Figures show the Pendle Estate saw 52 incidents of antisocial behaviour in September 2011 but the latest data reveals the crime has almost halved twelve months on with just 28 offences.

Paula Simm, the company's community safety manager, said: “We don't want to paint the area as being lawless – it wasn't like that, but our statistics were showing an area where there was a particular gang of youths making peoples lives a misery.

”A lot of it was youth disorder – a couple of disabled people had been targeted by certain youths – they had their windows smashed and were being harassed.

“Many residents were being intimidated by the youths and were afraid to tell us about it and report it for fears of reprisals.

”As a result we have not just taken actions on offenders but have also looked to introduce positive solutions to engage these youths and change their offending behaviour.

“Some of the more hardcore kids were taken on prison visits, it was positive and shocking because it's completely different from a young offenders institute.

”Young offenders have all that bravado out of prison but when they see what it's like to be there it has a powerful profound effect on them.“

The most recent year-on-year figures show antisocial behaviour incidents have increased in Bootle by over 50% to a total of 142 reports to police last September.

Areas such as Crosby, Waterloo and Blundellsands also showed a slight increase in the crime with a relatively minor 33 reports in September 2012 compared to 27 in the previous year.

But in Litherland antisocial behaviour is at its lowest level since February this year and has fallen by 20% since the same time last year so it is clear that Project Pendle has had the desired impact.

Paula added: ”I don't think we can ever completely conquer antisocial behaviour but by us creating a partnership and engaging youths we have started to make an inroad.

“Our next challenge will be using the success of this project as a model to tackle similar issues in other hot spot areas around Sefton.”

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