POLICE are to tackle a surge in anti-social behaviour in West Craven which councillors have said is a “perfect storm” created by cutbacks in youth work.
Speaking at Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee, Insp. Phil Davies told councillors the number of anti-social behaviour incidents across Earby, Coates and Craven wards was up by 19 in September compared to last year, with 69 cases last month.
He explained: “The bulk of this is around Earby with some emergent youth problems that seem to be created by a group that has been reported on a number of occasions.
“We have just established two PCSOs to focus on youths in Pendle and I intend on putting them into Earby as a priority to see what we can generate from that.”
Councillors discussed the withdrawal of the county council Young People’s Service staff from New Road Community Centre, saying they did not believe the rise in anti-social behaviour was a coincidence.
Coun. David Whipp said: “It is quite clear Earby in particular has suffered. The youth club at New Road was suspended for two months and the club for under-13s has been abolished.
“There hasn’t been the activities there were previously because staffing has been cut.
“Those Young People’s Service personnel that were in post very much recognised the problems but were helpless to put sessions on. When the club was reopened, my understanding is they had problems with being overrun with kids coming along and being unruly.”
Coun. Whipp asked Insp. Davies if he felt the cuts in youth work could have created the rise in anti-social behaviour.
Insp. Davies said: “Diversionary activities when well organised will always make a difference. Otherwise teens will find other ways to amuse themselves. From what you have said, it certainly seems to make sense why we have seen this rise in behaviour.”
After the issue had also been raised at meetings of Earby Town Council, Coun. Chris Tennant said: “I am pleased to hear there is going to be some positive action about what has been reported. I would say a lot of it is alcohol-fuelled. We’ve had reports of kids hanging off street lights, putting themselves in danger with traffic and intimidating members of the public when they come across them.”
Also speaking at the West Craven Committee meeting, vice chairman of New Road Community Association Doris Haigh said: “We had a meeting for the community association at the same time as the 13 to 19-year-old club was running for the first time since it had been suspended.
“It was horrendous. They kept interrupting our meeting until we eventually had to lock the door, and in the end there was a group of them rampaging down Victoria Road.
“Not having the youth club for months has resulted in a number of problems. Added to this I believe the police station in Earby will be put up for sale.”
Lancashire County Council’s Young People’s Service will now only hold a session in Earby one evening a week. Until the end of September there had been eight members of staff working out of the community centre, with three focused on youth work.
Coun. Whipp added: “The withdrawing of youth clubs has helped create this perfect storm of young people getting out of hand. Now it will a take a lot more effort and energy to get back to the same position than if the status quo had been maintained.”