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Bemerton residents determined to beat anti-social behaviour

April 22, 2010

A"near-riot" by teenagers outside Perth House last month prompted BVMO to call the public meeting

Residents of the Bemerton have agreed to set up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme on their estate in a bid to reduce incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Paul Convery joined police Sgt Mike Atkinson to encourage the initiative at a community meeting organised last night by the Bemerton Villages Management Organisation (BVMO).

As a first measure, the police will help a group of residents in 1-20 Earlsferry Way to set-up a pilot Neighbourhood Watch in their blockwhich has experienced the worst problems of teenagers loitering in stairwells and walkways.

The police have committed to support the first group of residents with extra patrolling and faster response times – based on their available shifts. Paul Convery called this a “great start to helping residents regain control of their own estate”.

The meeting also heard Paul argue that the estate and surrounding neighbourhood needs more police with extended powers; teenagers also need more organised and supervised activity; and they need more hope for the future – secure jobs and the chance to get homes in the neighbourhood where they grew up.

Paul said that “the vast majority of teenagers in our area are good kids from decent homes who need more and better opportunities to spend their spare time in positive activities.” But he argued that “a generation of young people have lost touch with the values which previous generations stuck to: respect for other people; prepared to tolerate differences; resolving disputes peacefully; ambition for personal achievement; willingness make the effort required to succeed.”

“We have a small number of teenagers who are determined to have a laugh or get a buzz – often at someone else’s expense or discomfort. Some of the kids have grown up without any understanding of the consequences to their actions or clear boundaries to their behaviour.

“When gathered in groups, teenagers often lose their inhibitions. Behaviour can routinely turn from thrill-seeking and energetic showing-off towards vandalism and destruction. At that point, it doesn’t take much for behaviour to turn violent. Add-in alcohol and drugs and things can get extremely dangerous.”

Paul also said that there were no simple answers. “But a part of the solution is to provide many more youth facilities to give kids in the area regular clubs to hang-out and socialise, for supervised sports, music, media and other leisure. But we also have to crack down on knife-crime and anti-social behaviour on our streets, estates and parks. In this area, we now need similar gang-intervention strategies that have been deployed in the north of the Borough which followed the fatal stabbing of Martin Dinnegan.

“But most of all, we need to give this generation of kids some sense of hope in the future. Most of them cannot envisage a way into regular employment. Many are still stuck at home with their parents and have no faith in their chances of getting somewhere affordable to live and to settle down. That’s why we need to help with employment – like working for the Council or its contractors. And we need to build new affordable homes that are suitable for the young people growing up on our estates.”

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