Police work to end anti-social behaviour

SENIOR police officers concerned about anti-social behaviour in Stowmarket are providing youngsters with free dancing lessons and football coaching to keep them occupied.

SENIOR police officers concerned about anti-social behaviour in Stowmarket are providing youngsters with free dancing lessons and football coaching to keep them occupied.

The Teenage Kicks Football and Street Dance Projects are held on Thursday nights, with dance classes staged at the middle school and football on the town's Recreation Ground.

Youngsters aged between ten and 19 are being trained by football coaches, and the dance sessions are led by tutors.

Suffolk Constabulary's mid Suffolk neighbourhood inspector Sally Gallant said: “We identified that there was a lack of activities for teenagers and places for them to go.

“It meant they had been hanging around the streets, which led to concerns about anti-social behaviour in some areas, and made the young people more vulnerable in terms of becoming involved in crime or indeed victims of crime.

“The young people themselves were asked what courses they would be interested in, and we hope that by providing the football and dance classes they've asked for we can give them a safe environment to meet and have fun in.

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“It gives them something positive to do in the evenings which enhances their confidence, teamwork skills and gives them a goal to work for.”

Youngsters gave the thumbs up to the project and said they loved going along.

Chloe Pumfrett, 11, from Stowmarket Middle School, said: “I really like dancing and being here with my friends. I have been coming from the beginning and I enjoy learning the moves.”

Louise Cracknell, ten, from Combs Middle School, said: “I really like learning to dance and would like to do more.”

And Lily Scott, also from Combs Middle, said it was the first evening she had attended and was enjoying meeting new youngsters at the dance class.

The projects, a joint initiative between Positive Futures, Crime Concern, Suffolk Youth Offending Service, Time 2 Change and Suffolk police, have been running since the middle of May, and have been very well attended.

It is hoped to extend the initiative after its initial 18 weeks. Plans are in place to develop winter activities which would run through into 2009.

Are the classes a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk