Youth centre helps to reduce levels of crime

NEAABE120109h4, New Eastwood youth centre, Derby road Eastwood. Andy Allsop.
NEAABE120109h4, New Eastwood youth centre, Derby road Eastwood. Andy Allsop.

ANTI-SOCIAL Behaviour has reduced by more than 20 per cent in Eastwood since the new youth centre opened.

Police have monitored crime figures in the town since the opening of the centre last September and say trouble has reduced by 23 per cent.

Centre manager Andy Allsopp, was a youth worker in Eastwood, said he had a ‘strong feeling’ the club would reduce crime and it was ‘fantastic news’ it had helped get kids off the streets.

“If they are taken off the street in the evening then they’re not getting involved in anti-social behaviour,” he said. “I knew it would have a massive impact on crime and the figures backed that up.”

But Mr Allsopp stressed the centre attracted a variety of people, and not everybody who went there used to cause trouble out on the streets of Eastwood.

However, he said the centre was a good way of engaging all different groups of children.

Cabinet member for children and young people’s services Cllr Philip Owen said the crime figures were ‘very heartening’ and he was delighted the council and police had developed ‘an excellent relationship for the good of young people across Eastwood’.

Police compared incidents from September to December 2010 with the same period in 2011.

As well as a reduction in anti-social behaviour, the figures also showed a reduction of 68 per cent in drug offences, 68 per cent in sexual offences and 33 per cent in burglaries.

Sgt Andy Browning at Eastwood Police Station said: “Working with our partners to engage young people and offering them alternatives to hanging around the streets is a vital part of community policing.

“The reductions in anti-social behaviour here are significant, which shows that investment in facilities and chances for young people to develop their skills and social ability is well worth it.

“Getting to know young people on a personal level helps build trust and confidence, which in the longer term, helps us deal with any issues directly, quickly and productively.”

Mr Allsopp said the Derby Road youth centre had been a roaring success since it opened last September.

“It’s going absolutely fantastically,” he said.

“We are getting about 70 people on average come to every session. It’s early days with it only being open a few months, and it’s a marathon not a sprint, but up until now I couldn’t be happier.”

Mr Allsopp runs sessions Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays between 7pm and 9.30pm. Additionally there are ‘Skills for Employment’ workshops held every day Monday to Friday from 9am until 3.30pm.

The sessions involve English, maths, IT and customer services and aim to help 16 to 18-year-olds find jobs and training.

There are also careers advice sessions from 2pm until 5pm every Thursday and play sessions for kids every Monday from 4pm until 6.30pm

Activities on offer at the £2m centre include DJ-ing, table tennis, football, pool, basketball and hockey, arts and crafts, quizzes, bingo and computer sessions. There is a coffee bar, meeting room, dance studio, music recording studio and office space.

Cllr Keith Longden, who regularly helps out as a volunteer and funded some of the equipment said he was trying to get more sessions because it was so popular.