MANY kids who have a brush with the law are just bored, says Northumbria’s Police Kim McGuinness as she funds Easter break diversionary activities through her Operation Payback Scheme to help reduce the number of anti-social behaviour victims.

The Commissioner, who recently launched her ‘Fighting Poverty, Fighting Crime’ plan, has warned young people living in poverty in the North-East are especially vulnerable during school holiday times and that it can be the worst time for struggling families.

Inspire Youth in Tyne and Wear are one local organisation benefitting from Operation Payback – a fund Kim McGuinness launched to help grass root causes and support the work of Northumbria Police by re-investing cash seized from criminals back into local communities. The aim being to help prevent crime and reduce the number of ASB victims through-out the force area.

Using part of their £5,000 funding, Inspire Youth will be providing diversionary activities such as sport, games and art during the Easter holidays. The plans are being ran by two girls’ groups in Newbiggin and West Denton and are dedicated to tackling anti-social behaviour and substance misuse and encourage young people to get involved in positive activities.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “Nobody wants trouble on their street, in the park or on the bus – it’s not acceptable – but the vast majority of people tell me they prefer to prevent ASB from happening, rather than handing out punishments when it does.

“Kids that go off the rails and land themselves in bother often do so as there aren’t other opportunities for them. The holidays are anything but a holiday for these kids, these families and so we need to be giving them things to do, things they enjoy and things that don’t have a hefty price tag – one family’s holiday is another family’s rent. Youth diversion activities like Inspire Youth are offering are the answer. They are exactly the type of thing I hoped Operation Payback would be able to help with when it launched last year.

“We have the two wonderful football foundations in our region too- The Foundation of Light and Newcastle United Foundation – I know they’re always great at having a busy line up of activities for young people during the holidays.

“We know ASB reports increase during the school holidays but the more we can give kids an alternative, the fewer victims of crime there will be. Juggling childcare or the supervision of teenagers when you’re trying to hold down a job to pay the bills when there is a cost of living crisis going on is no easy task. Knowing where your children are is sometimes not as simple as it sounds.

“Government needs to step up when it comes to youth services, not just during the holidays but all year round. If they won’t fund our police force properly to pick up the pieces when kids have got up to no good they need to give kids meaningful things to do with their time like sports and social clubs – anything to stop them being drawn into criminality.”

She added: “Sometimes, just having a free club to go to can make all the difference. Kids get bored. Those wandering the streets will often tell officers, they have nowhere to go, nothing to do. Well let’s give them something to do, to keep them busy, something to enjoy and where there are positive role models. We need youth services and to fight crime we need to fight poverty.”

Michelle Mitchell from Inspire Youth, said: “Through the funding from the PCC we have been able to set up and deliver Girl’s group sessions which are vital for our girls to give them a safe space where they are able to overcomes adversaries, traumas and many other issues whilst learning life skills, socialising, meeting new friends and having fun in a relaxed and calm environment.

“The PCC also supports the other sessions we deliver for young people which not only gives them a place where they have a voice, can be heard but it assists in the community through reducing ASB, breaking down barriers and enhancing the areas through the projects we deliver.

“Without funding our future generation would not have the opportunity to have youth sessions, learn vital life skills, socialise and get fed in safe and fun environments, they need sustainability and a place to go to where they can be young people.”