Tackling anti-social behaviour is back on the agenda in South Tyneside as the lighter nights draw in.
South Tyneside Council has again joined forces with South Tyneside Homes, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police for the annual Lighter Nights campaign.
The campaign runs from Thursday March 29 to Sunday April 15 and coincides with the clocks going forward and the Easter holidays.
It aims to prevent anti-social behaviour, identify potential fire hazards and engage with young people across the borough.
Coun Moira Smith, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “Historically, anti-social behaviour increases during the lighter evenings and warmer weather when young people tend to spend more time outdoors with their friends.
“The Lighter Nights campaign is about taking a multi-agency approach to tackle incidents that traditionally peak at this time of year. It also aims to educate young people about the impact of their behaviour on their communities as well as to encourage them to enjoy positive activities.”
Superintendent Steve Heatley, from Northumbria Police, said: “It is important we stay prepared for what lighter nights will bring and ensure all of our officers continue to be ready for any changes in crime.”
Tony Markwell, Head of Prevention & Education at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Typically, spring sees an increase in the number of fires which are set deliberately. These fires could endanger the lives of the perpetrators and anyone close by.
“They cause damage to property, the environment and tie up firefighters unnecessarily. What may seem like a bit of fun can quickly spread and endanger lives.
“Parents need to know what their children are doing if they go out during the lighter nights, and talk to them about the dangers of setting fires deliberately – it’s no game playing with someone’s life and potentially their own futures – especially as setting deliberate fires can lead to a criminal prosecution.”
As part of this year’s campaign, a range of free events and diversionary activities will take place for young people.
These include free climbing sessions and a barbecue on Thursday 29 March, from 5.30pm to 9.30pm, at Simonside Climbing Wall in St Simon Street, South Shields.
Young people can tackle more than 170 climbing routes as well as a free climb bouldering area and digital/sensory trailblazer traverse wall. The climbing wall is open for children aged five and over.
Young people, aged 11 to 19, can also get involved in free five-a-side football tournaments on Friday 6 April, from 6pm to 9pm, at Clegwell and Hartleyburn Community Hub and on Friday 13 April, from 6pm to 9pm, on the outdoor 3G pitch at Temple Park Centre.
Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families, at South Tyneside Council, said: “These events are always really popular with young people and give us an ideal opportunity to talk to them about the risks of being drawn into anti-social behaviour.
To find out more about the climbing sessions, call Martin Simpson on (0191) 424 0118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To enter a team for the five-a-side competitions (11-14 and 15-19 age groups) please call Chris Thompson on (0191) 424 7845 or email email@example.com
To report anti-social behaviour, call the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit on (0191) 427 7999, the Customer Contact Centre on (0191) 427 7000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, text ASB followed by message to 07786 200 802 or online at www.southtyneside.gov.uk/asb
The Community Wardens can be contacted on (0191) 420 3713, any day from 11am to 10.30pm.