Youth disorder project gains national respect
Dated: 30 Apr 2007
An initiative which took youngsters off the streets of Cramlington and led to a big drop in disorder has scooped a national award after being nominated by Northumbria Police.
The Scruffz project and its founder, Mick Harland, have received a RAFTA - Respect Award For Taking A Stand - at a national presentation event in Birmingham
The RAFTAS are given to people for their commitment, energy and courage in standing up to vandals, thugs and nuisance neighbours. Individuals and groups were nominated by the people who helped them to transform their communities, including the police, local authority, anti-social behaviour team, members of the community and other agencies.
The Scruffz scheme was set up in the wake of numerous complaints about youth disorder in Cramlington, which led to police and Blyth Valley Council imposing a dispersal order on the Brockwell Centre.
Although the order, imposed in 2005, had a huge impact on youth disorder at the centre, some felt this was just moving the large groups away without actually tackling the underlying issues. Most of the youths involved were not out to cause trouble, but had nowhere to go to meet up with friends and let their hair down.
The council asked local youngsters what they would like and early last year Scruffz was created, in conjunction with Mick Harland, a resident of Cramlington.
Operating with its own Youth Management Team, the project received funding from the local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and was able to move into a facility at Northburn Sports Centre, Cramlington where a disco, canteen and a taxi service home was set up. It immediately proved a big hit and since then over 6,000 youths have attended, with up to 200 a week coming along.
Cramlington Neighbourhood Inspector Janice Hutton said: " The project has been a great success. It led to youth disorder calls decreasing and allowed officers to concentrate their efforts of tackling under age drinking, criminal damage and other anti-social behaviour, instead of just moving large groups of youngsters around.
" The calls to the Brockwell Centre and other shops have dropped and a second dispersal order was withdrawn due to the positive effect the project has had. The scheme ran a zero-tolerance rule using a breathalyser and anyone found under the influence was turned away at the door.
" The positive effect Scruffz has had is very clear and due to the hard work and desire of Mick Harland and the youth management team they have made Cramlington a safer environment to live due to them providing a safe, well policed youth provision which the youths can call their own."
Mr Harland's award was presented to him by the Government’s Co-ordinator for Respect, Louise Casey, who said: " Our RAFTAS award winners are truly ambassadors for the Respect drive.
" It is not easy to stand up to those doing wrong; the winners of these awards have been deservedly recognised for working with the police and local authorities to challenge the minority of people who think it is acceptable to intimidate, harass and blight our communities.
" They have cleaned up graffiti, set up residents groups, given evidence in court and organised activities for young people. They have proved, yet again, that determined members of the public are the most effective weapon in tackling, not tolerating, anti-social behaviour.
" They have shown commitment, drive and courage and are an inspiration to us all."
Mr Harland is currently looking for new premises to hold the Scruffz events. He can be contacted on 07736 180 715.