Youth workers to patrol at night to combat anti-social behaviour
YOUTH workers are to launch night-time street patrols to combat anti-social behaviour on a Cheltenham estate.
Gloucestershire police have received complaints about gangs of youths gathering in and around the large open space either side of Robert Burns Avenue in Benhall. In September, for example, there were nine incidents of anti-social behaviour either on the park or close to it.
There have been reports of youths, some under 18, drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Now two youth workers are set to patrol the area one evening a week, from January.
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The street-based work will be funded by a £5,700 grant which has been awarded to the Granley Residents' Association (GRA) by Cheltenham Borough Council. It comes from its 'positive activities' fund, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of youngsters across the town.
Sue Brooks is chairman of the GRA, which covers the Granley Road and surrounding streets part of Benhall and works closely with Benhall Residents' Association.
Welcoming the scheme, she said: "The idea will be for the youth workers to engage with the youths and persuade them to do something a little more active that's not anti-social."
She said the problem was not a large one but there had been incidents, related to drink and drugs, that had been affecting the neighbourhood in recent years.
She added: "Those involved are aged between 14 and 18. It's more of a problem in the summer but it does continue in the winter.
"It's got to be tackled from one direction or another."
Part of the council funding will go towards a plan to create a graffiti wall under the bridge in Robert Burns Avenue, which cuts through the middle of the park.
The authorities are backing the street-based project as there is no youth club building in the area.
Spearheading the initiative is Chris Knight, the council-funded County Community Projects' youth services manager.
He said: "The funding is for an initial 12-month period. Two people will be street-based and we will be recruiting them for that.
"It will be one evening a week to start with for the first year.
"They will be professional people who understand what the young people are about. They will consult them about what their needs are.
"They will have information about alcohol and substance abuse. It's about engaging with them on their level."