Sports project helps tackle antisocial behaviour

A project tackling antisocial behaviour in a popular park, which saw a 75 percent drop in calls to police, has been praised

by Home Office Minister Alan Campbell.

Operation Windburn ran in Wigan’s Mesnes Park last summer and was so successful that local authorities plan to repeat the project, which included coaching sessions by Wigan Athletic Football Club, this summer.

Diversionary activities including football, archery, rounders and a climbing wall took place every Friday and Saturday night for 12 weeks. The project was set up following a series of problems with anti-social behaviour in the park.

On a visit to the park on 4 March Mr Campbell met with those who took part in Operation Windburn and local residents to find out about the impact of the project.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:

“No one should be expected to suffer from antisocial behaviour and it is far better that we prevent it from happening in the first place rather than dealing with it after the event. Projects like Operation Windburn are key to doing this and don’t just benefit young people but the entire community as well.

“We will continue to support our local partners to tackle anti-social behaviour with projects like this. However we have made it clear that when anti-social behaviour is happening we expect it to be tackled not tolerated with all the tools and powers at their disposal.”

Inspector Glenn Jones from Wigan’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said:

“Young people tell us they often feel a sense of alienation within their own community. Projects like Operation Windburn address that, giving them their own space and providing them with activities in safe surroundings where they aren’t at any risk and can socialise with their peers.

“We were also able to build relationships with the young people, and where we identified issues around drugs or alcohol, we were able to make appropriate referrals. During the three months the project ran, other areas surrounding Mesnes Park also reported a drop in anti-social behaviour, so it’s a win-win situation."

Sue Turner, from the Friends of Mesnes Park, said:
“The park is there for the entire community to enjoy. Those that abuse it, and intimidate other users, are depriving local people of this wonderful amenity.

“The Friends of Mesnes Park group has a vision for the park which sees it being used and enjoyed by all members of the community, with a programme of events open to everybody. Operation Windburn is a measure which helps us claim the park back for all.”

Councillor Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet champion for neighbourhoods, said:

"The success of Operation Windburn lies 100 per cent with the partners who signed up to it, and who worked together in a coordinated fashion to encourage young people to get involved in positive, healthy activities.

“It is a simple but effective way of diverting young people who may potentially be tempted to get caught up in antisocial behaviour. Furthermore this kind of initiative gives local residents much needed peace of mind."
Wigan is one of 62 areas across the country receiving additional support from the Home Office to tackle perceptions of antisocial behaviour. It includes help from an antisocial behaviour (ASB) Delivery Expert to identify problems and, where needed, the ASB Action Squad to help drive up performance. A Victims’ Champion will also be appointed to stand alongside victims and deliver practical help.

Source: © Home Office

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