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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Tynedale: Boxing clever in efforts to engage with teenagers

YOUNGSTERS across Tynedale are being encouraged to fight each other – by the emergency services!

But the initiative will not see teenagers trading blows in street corner scraps, but in the ring.

For boxing is seen as a key activity in keeping young people on the straight and narrow.

Boxing clubs are being established at both Hexham and Prudhoe, community safety manager Ian Bilham told members of Northumberland County Council’s west area committee.

In his report on the work of LMAPS (the local multi agency problem solving team) Mr Bilham said significant work had been achieved by community safety staff in engaging an officer from the fire and rescue service, in conjunction with the youth service, to kick start a youth boxing club at the East Youth Centre in Prudhoe.

Support from North Country Leisure was provided with complementary activities at Prudhoe Waterworld and in November last year, LMAPS funding was agreed to support 10 memberships to the Waterworld fitness studio.

The High Sheriff of Northumberland also stumped up an award of £500 in support of the initiative.

Mr Bilham added: “The project is rapidly developing and work is ongoing.

“The boxing club has several new members and due to further funding from LMAPS has been able to achieve provision for 10 young people with six month gym memberships to Waterworld.

“To date there have been six passes utilised on a reward basis.”

He added that the youth service had agreed to fund the coaches’ wages for a further 12 months to enable the boxing club to continue while discussions go on with North Country Leisure for long term sustainable funding.

Visits had also been made to East Hartford Boxing Club at Cramlington to broaden experience.

A donation of £1,800 from the Police Crime Commissioner’s Fund had helped launch a boxing club initiative in Hexham.

The aim was to provide sessions at a local venue on Thursday evenings between 6pm and 8.30pm for 11-14 year olds and a second session for an older group.

Fire and rescue service officers were providing coaching and contributions from Hexham Youth Initiative and the East End regeneration team were assisting in publicising and attracting young people to the initiative.

Outside the ring, Mr Bilham reported that police were getting on their bikes to tackle crooks who sneaked into homes in Prudhoe and Wylam using secluded cycle tracks such as the Wylam Waggonway.

He said: “Burglaries of sheds, outhouses and commercial premises has been on the increase with Prudhoe town centre and surrounding areas.

“Criminals travel into the village from secluded cycle tracks, so funding has been provided to equip officers with kit to complement the use of pedal cycles for use on cycle tracks and similar routes which are known to be used by criminals.”

Mr Bilham also reported that there had been a substantial reduction in anti-social behaviour in the Prudhoe area, following the granting by Newcastle Magistrates Court of a criminally related anti-social behaviour order against one prolific offender from the town.

In the west, police were still monitoring the tension in Melkridge between residents and a local landowner over a disputed right of way.

There was also concern about thefts in rural areas of items such as fences, gates, sheep and sheep feeders.

However, Mr Bilham said there had been tangible success in the campaign to increase road safety awareness among young motor-cyclists.

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