Anti-social behaviour by teenagers which was blighting two villages in Flintshire is on the decline thanks to Friday night football sessions funded by Wales & West Housing.
Following growing reports of young people committing criminal damage, playing football on business premises and throwing eggs at vehicles in Ewloe and Hawarden, the housing association stepped in to support the solution devised by North Wales Police and Flintshire Council to tackle the problem.
More than 20 youngsters aged 12-17 now attend a weekly football session at Hawarden High School run by police community support officer (PCSO) Stephanie Jones and Dan Williams, school and community sports coordinator from Aura Leisure and Libraries.
Many of the anti-social behaviour suspects blamed their actions on boredom and having nothing to do after school. But with the regular activity in place since September last year ASB crime in Ewloe and Hawarden is declining – and relations between the police and young people are on the way up.
PCSO Stephanie Jones said: “Myself and Dan both felt that Hawarden and Ewloe were lacking positive activities that could be utilised by local young people to entertain their time more constructively outside of school.
“Wales & West Housing generously provided £500 of the £750 raised to support the programme, with the rest provided by Flintshire County Council’s ASB tasking committee and Aura Leisure and Libraries.
“The football sessions have definitely had a positive impact on the levels of Anti-Social Behaviour in the area, particularly on Friday evenings.
“Prior to the programme, ASB in Hawarden and Ewloe was a monthly point of discussion at police meetings based on the number of reports we were receiving but six months into our project the area has been removed from the agenda, demonstrating the vast improvement that has occurred.”
The North Wales office of Wales & West Housing is at St David’s Park in Ewloe. Chief executive Anne Hinchey said: “Our sponsorship programme is focused on identifying projects and organisations which match our own vision of making a difference within the community so we are delighted to see the positive impact which the football sessions have had in the area.”
PCSO Jones now hopes to extend the project and expand it in future. She added: “On some of the busiest weeks as many as 50 have attended to take part, which is fantastic.
“Dan and I are present at every session as I feel it’s important to remove barriers between young people and the police, eliminating their preconception of what we do.”
The football sessions take place every Friday evening from 6pm – 7pm at Hawarden High School outdoor pitch and are free to attend for anyone aged 12-17. No advanced booking is needed. Sessions are operated on a drop-in basis so players can just turn up on the night.