A diversionary project designed to inspire North Tyneside’s young people and guide them away from criminality has been hailed as an overwhelming success.

The ten-week programme has recently come to a close and has seen fantastic levels of engagement and enthusiasm from those involved.

The activity has been funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness’ Violence Reduction Unit (VRU).

More than £20,000 was invested in the local community by the VRU, with a number of targeted projects launched with support from the local partnerships such as Edge North East, North Tyneside Council and Power Through Sport.

The funding sought to inspire and divert young people away from crime after an anti-social behaviour spike in the area in previous years. The programme also hoped to engage and teach children of all backgrounds more positive ways to interact with their interests.

The main activity of the funding saw the introduction of instructive BMX sessions to promote fun as well as safety to positively influence those who may be prone to risky behaviours.

Sessions were hosted by coaches at Barnesbury BMX Club in Bedlington who purchased new equipment to provide access to free, up-to-date gear – removing any barriers to participation.

Transport to and from the sessions was also facilitated by local charity Edge North East, to allow as many youngsters to take part as possible and to ensure inclusivity.

Neighbourhood Inspector Jennifer Scott said: “This dedicated action is just one way we have been addressing the concerns reported to police and partners by residents.

“I was really pleased to see such excellent engagement taking place with young people in the area, and the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This activity of course is not just a one-off and we would like to reassure those living and working in the area that patrols and partnership working will continue. In the coming weeks we have several initiatives in the area to be launched, and this work continues all year round.

“However, we would also ask members of the public to continue to be our eyes and ears on the ground and report any intelligence to police or the most appropriate agency.”

Insp Scott continued: “I would encourage parents and carers to continue to engage and work with us about anti-social behaviour. Please speak to your children about where they are heading, what they are doing and the potential consequences of getting mixed up in this type of activity.

“Ultimately, we need your support to tackle anti-social behaviour in North Tyneside and to help ensure that young people in the community are safe.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “This work builds on the success we have seen during the summer months and provides young people with access to activities and projects that interest them, right in the heart of their local communities.

“We must continue to do all we can to steer young people away from the dangers and consequences of becoming involved in crime. That’s why the Violence Reduction Unit is committed to ramping up its seasonal activity to ensure projects like this are available in areas that need them most.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is that we provide our region’s young people with as many opportunities as possible, because with the right support, we can help them to make positive decisions for the future.”

Praising the work of everyone involved, she added: “My thanks go to all the organisations that have come together to make everything so accessible for young people. We are so much stronger when we work together in the fight against crime.”

Many of those involved in the sessions showed a natural ability from the outset and a keenness to learn in a safe and supportive environment.

The youngsters will be able to build on the foundation of the skills learned from the involvement with the programme in the future, and now know where to look for support.

Activity also came in the form of weekly street discussions with young people in the area by Edge NE teams who also regularly engaged with local community groups to allow for an even bigger group of children to be involved.

If you see anything suspicious in your community, always report it to police via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page on our website or by calling 101. In an emergency, or if a crime is taking place, always ring 999.