Crime and anti-social behaviour “hotspots” in South Ribble are to be targeted with a new range of activities to keep the borough’s young people out of trouble.
The pilot project - which will run for the next two years - will include sports, wellbeing and volunteering programmes, operated during evenings and school holidays.
The initiative will build on a short scheme which ran in the Kingsfold area over the summer and was deemed a success by Lancashire Police.
South Ribble Borough Council’s cabinet heard that the activities will continue to focus on “maintaining the stability” of the Kingsfold area, but will also focus on Leyland town centre and Churchill Way - as well as any other problem areas which emerge.
Deputy council leader Mick Titherington said that he did not want to present South Ribble as a “lawless” district.
“It is one of the safest areas to live in Lancashire. but we’ve got to engage young people in things that steer them away from anti-social behaviour or even getting recruited into drugs gangs,” he added.
A new youth support worker will be recruited to coordinate the programme from a base at Northwood School and will deliver the scheme in partnership with community organisations who may already be doing similar work.
Possible projects include working with charities to develop local sports clubs, volunteering opportunities at an over-60s health rehabilitation scheme and programmes giving young people the “resilience” not to get involved with crime or anti-social behaviour. Participants will also be given enhanced access to South Ribble's leisure facilities.
A “leadership and volunteering academy” for 16-24-year-olds will be developed to train young people who will then go on to deliver some of the projects themselves.
Cllr Jane Bell cautioned against there being a gap in "creative" activities and too much of a focus on sport, but Cllr Titherington said that the projects would recognise that "some young people are arty and some are sporty".
Council leader Paul Foster said that police had found “next to no” anti-social behaviour in the Kingsfold area for the duration of the summer scheme. - and that the force would prefer the council to lead this kind of work rather than restarting previously scrapped commitments to contribute towards the cost of police community support officers (PCSOs).
The project will cost £205,000 over the next two years. Deputy leader of the Conservative opposition Caroline Moon welcomed the investment, but warned that pressure must be kept on the office of the police and crime commissioner to ensure that South Ribble continues to receive its appropriate share of police resources once the project launches.