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KIM MCGUINNESS: Why fighting poverty and easing holiday hardship can reduce ASB in Sunderland

The holidays are here. A time for fun, travel, a nice break. But, with a cost of living crisis, for many mams and dads the Easter holidays are anything but a holiday – they’re times of hardship

By The Newsroom
Friday, 8th April 2022, 12:00 am

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Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria.
Kim McGuinness, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria.

The juggle of childcare, supervising teenagers, holding down your job, putting extra meals on the table and all with the moans of “I’m bored!”

It can be problem after problem. It’s of little surprise that during the holidays our police receive more reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB).

Many kids who have a brush with the law are just bored – we know this because they tell us.

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.

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Kids that go off the rails and land themselves in bother often do so as there aren’t other opportunities for them. And so the answer is simple. They need to be given 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.

The more we can give kids an alternative, the fewer victims of crime there will be.

Youth diversion activities and work supporting struggling families through organisations such as Pallion Action Group in Sunderland are part of the answer and that’s why I am supporting them through my Operation Payback Fund. The fund is there 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.

But Government needs to step up when it comes to youth services and 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 or becoming victims themselves.

Kids say they’re bored - 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. Sometimes, just having a free club to go to can make all the difference.