Meet the ‘chain gang’ combating anti-social behaviour
Police have positively engaged with youngsters in an anti-social behaviour hotspot in Bristol by organising bike races and maintenance workshops.
In response to reports of “appalling and intimidating behaviour and language” from residents, retailers and shoppers in the Hartcliffe area of the city, police partnered with local firm Sole Cycling to offer young people fun diversionary activities based around cycling.
Sole Cycling’s Marc Molloy set up track stand competitions and assault courses in the Morrison’s car park where much of the anti-social behaviour occurred. He also encouraged young people to try their hand at bicycle repairs.
The response has been so positive that he has quickly established a core group of 12 young people who return each day to practise fixing and fine-tuning bikes. Molloy claims one or two “are already clued-up enough to open their own shop!”
Molloy has introduced a ‘smoothie bike’ to sessions to relay messages about how food choices and active lifestyles can help schoolwork and behaviour.
Molloy said: “We’ve worked with the police during evenings, weekends and holidays for a long time and had some really positive results, including a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour to zero in certain targeted areas, a cited increase in interaction between the police and local families and a sustained fall in the number of children on anti-social behaviour contracts.
“The opportunity to come and ride on a closed-road facility, with full tuition, and the chance to get their bikes fixed for free by our qualified mechanic was really special for these families. It also gave the police a good way to meet some of the local kids, their families and start a dialogue with many of them for the first time.”
The project in Hartcliffe is the first of several leading up to the summer holidays that aim to teach young people how to fix bikes. Many will be given a bike to keep on completion of courses from the lost/confiscated police stores.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Carlone Crane said: “Morrison’s car park is an area where anti-social behaviour tends to flare up, so we thought we would get on the front foot and offer kids something fun and challenging to do, instead of causing trouble.”