Permanent youth hub could cut anti-social behaviour in Fenland town
A police officer who spent much of the summer tackling anti-social behaviour in a Fenland town is spearheading the fight to get permanent youth facilities.
PC Kurt Allen, who is part of the Fenland Neighbourhood Policing Team and is the dedicated officer for Chatteris, wants to provide the kind of facilities found at Young People March and has been trying to locate a suitable premises.
He is being backed by the town council who have set up a youth focus group with other volunteer groups following the numerous issues caused by anti-social behaviour by younger teenagers throughout the summer months.
Problems have included throwing fire works, damaging shop windows, climbing on buildings and generally causing a nuisance to other residents.
PC Allen said: “Throughout the summer months, we were dealing with numerous issues surrounding anti-social behaviour in Chatteris, caused by a small number of young people. “Problems included throwing fireworks, damaging shop windows, climbing on buildings and generally causing a nuisance to other residents. At its peak we were receiving two to three calls a day about anti-social behaviour in Chatteris.
“As the local officer for Chatteris, I spent time engaging with the young people and talking to them about their needs. It was agreed that a safe place was needed for them to meet up and hang out with friends, but as a more informal drop in arrangement as opposed to a formal youth club.
“With help from Youths of Fenland CIC, I was able to set up a temporary youth drop in centre in the Emmanuel Church annex for ages 11plus on Wednesdays between 5-7pm, but I am still looking for a permanent space to be used.
"Currently, the calls about anti-social behaviour within the town have fallen to around two a week. I am now encouraging young people in Chatteris to promote their views in order to try and find a suitable premises to make this a permanent fixture within the town” “The young people in Chatteris are desperate to have similar facilities to those in neighbouring towns. They are looking for a building or space that will be more like a youth hub, than youth club. We are hopeful the achievements accomplished during the trial can be supported more permanently which will not only offer young people a place to meet up and hang out, but we hope to have other support services available too.
"Matt Stevenson at Cromwell Community College is on-board with the idea and is focussing on getting as many young people involved in supporting the project as possible.
"We also have support from Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Clarion including local businesses, but it is all about finding the right premises, somewhere accessible for the young people and at a price the youth focus group can afford.
"If anyone has, or knows of a suitable building then I would love to hear from you.
"If other organisations want to join our campaign then they would also be welcome, the greater the support we have, the more chance we have of succeeding. "I really believe the young people of Chatteris deserve to have their own space. I know some people will say we are rewarding the bad behaviour of some, but that is not the case, we are giving these teenagers a more positive focus and moving them away from the sort of behaviour we have seen this summer.
"The youth club has provided the attendees with a feeling of belonging and being a valued part of the community of Chatteris. We are hopeful a permanent arrangement will continue to instil this positivity in the young people of the town and we hope will ensure we will not see a repeat of the ASB events this summer."