‘Cultural change’ sees fewer gangs in centre
7:58am Saturday 9th March 2013 in News
THE number of troublemaking youths gathering in Farnworth town centre has dropped dramatically, according to police.
A group of about 60 teenagers were notorious among residents for their nuisance behaviour in the former market and precinct.
But a determined push from the police has driven a “cultural change” in youngsters over the past year, officers say.
Sgt Jonathan Seeds, from Bolton South neighbourhood policing team, said the success was due to a scheme called “Weekenders”, in which residents were asked to write to police explaining how yobbish behaviour made their lives a misery.
Youngsters were shown the letters, and a group of 11 were last May enrolled on a voluntary 13-week scheme offering them alternative activities at the weekend and showing them the consequences of their actions.
Speaking to residents at the latest Farnworth area forum meeting, Sgt Seeds said: “Every evening we had 60 kids come onto the market place.
“This was one of the first things we worked towards tackling.
“And it wasn't just kids from Farnworth — we had parents from all over dropping their kids off. It was a free for all. So we went into all of the schools and looked at the other things for kids to do.
“It’s not perfect but I think there has been a cultural change with young people meeting there.
“We looked at the main kids causing the problems and put them on a 13-week scheme.
“We took them down to the police stations, showed them cells and talked to them about the effect of their behaviour.
“We read out letters to them from residents and many of the cocky kids were not so cocky when they were confronted one-toone.”
Residents at the forum said they had seen an improvement.
Speaking after the meeting, Diane Lemon, of Lord Street, said: “We have seen an improvement in the last year and I think it’s down to the number of PCSOs on the streets. If you see gangs of kids on the street, it can be intimidating even if the kids in the group are okay.”
Cllr Noel Spencer said: “I pass that area of town three to four times a week at night and I have seen a real improvement.”