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Luton Anti-Crime Youth Projects Get Boost From Police Authority

Three pioneering Luton-based projects have been recipients of a cash boost from Bedfordshire Police Authority’s Youth Projects Fund.

Luton Liberal Democrat Councillor Martin Pantling, who was elected by the Police Authority in May to chair their Group looking at Youth issues in relation to crime and policing, awarded the grants at a presentation evening last week, where the groups outlined their plans.

Two of the projects are in an area of East Luton. One, a scheme to create a Youth Shelter and Community Use area in the Ashcroft Park area, was developed in association with Luton Council’s Community Safety team and the East Luton Safer Neighbourhood Team, and has received widespread praise and backing. The Police Authority decided to award £5,000 towards the project, which will see a new sporting facility for five-a-side football and basketball, alongside an all-weather shelter. The community have already been consulted on the exact location of the facility.

The second East Luton project is the SPA youth project, aimed at 11-16 years olds. Short for Stopsley, Putteridge and Ashcroft, it aims to target youths to change their perceptions through good cohesion and equalities work linking them to other communities in the town, breaking down some of the divisions that can lead to gang rivalry, as well as involving them in sports, arts and workshops. Respect will be a key part of the message, and a big football star has been mooted to talk to the young people involved. SPA were given £3,500.

£5,000 was also awarded to Project Turnaround, a Luton project run in association with the national anti-offending charity NACRO. This will see a 10-week course targeted specifically at 11 and 12 year olds at risk of offending. Those taking part will have been identified by the Youth Offending Team, schools and children’s services, and the aim is literally to “turnaround” challenging and anti-social behaviour before it becomes more serious, and stop the youngest secondary pupils developing criminal attributes or becoming “nuisance youths”.

Martin Pantling says: “One of the community roles of the Police Authority, who act as a cross-Bedfordshire voice overseeing the Police, is this fund to support a small but select number of worthwhile projects across the County. This time, three of these are in Luton. The aim is to provide diversionary activities where and among the groups it is most needed, to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. We decide which projects to fund by assessing the track record of organisations applying and the outcomes expected in terms of reduced crime and nuisance. We were extremely impressed at the quality of the successful projects this time, and welcome further applications by the end of November. Packs are available from the Police Authority.”

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