A joint initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour in South Tyneside is offering a host of activities to keep young people occupied and off the streets over the Easter holidays.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has joined forces with South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes and Northumbria Police to introduce the Lighter Nights campaign, now that the hours of daylight have increased.
The campaign, which runs until 15 April, will tackle anti-social behaviour such as criminal damage, underage drinking, wheelie bin fires, rubbish and grass fires.
As well as providing diversionary activities, the campaign features increased patrols and walkabouts to educate children and young people on the dangers and consequences relating to deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour.
Over the Easter weekend, Northumbria Police and South Tyneside Council Trading Standards officers are teaming up every day to carry out underage alcohol purchase checks at off licenses across the area.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service will be carrying out high visibility patrols in hot spot areas to identify potential fire hazards, as well as meeting and talking to young people from South Tyneside during community engagement sessions at Harton Primary School and the Temple Park Centre.
South Tyneside Council's Sports Development team is also hosting a wide range of sport, dance and fitness sessions for youngsters of all ages at local schools, leisure and community centres.
District Manager for South Tyneside, Ian Robertson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Statistics show that anti-social behaviour, including deliberate fire setting, increases during the Spring period. Anecdotal evidence leads us to believe that this is linked to the onset of the lighter nights and improved weather conditions. By going out and talking to young people and offering them other things to do in their spare time, we hope to reverse this trend."
Chief Inspector Brian Walker, from Northumbria Police's South Tyneside Area Command, said: "The lighter evenings often coincide with an increase in crime, disorder and inconsiderate behaviour, particularly around the Easter holidays, which can make people feel unsafe in their neighbourhoods.
"Working together, we aim to cut any incidents by focusing our attention on identified areas, as well as offering reassurance to residents."
Councillor Jim Foreman, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “We want people to enjoy this time of year when the nights get lighter and the weather gets warmer, but we also want people to stay safe.
“As well as helping to educate our young people about the impact of anti-social behaviour on local communities, we are working with our partners to hold a range of activities to keep them entertained over the Easter period.
“By providing things to do and places to go for young people, we can help to keep them safe and off the streets and encourage them to channel their energy into something constructive. This also helps to reduce disorder, which is a huge boost for communities.”
The Lighter Nights campaign is funded by South Tyneside’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams which is a partnership between Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police and South Tyneside Council, including Services for Young People, the Antisocial Behaviour Team and Neighbourhood Wardens.