Antisocial behaviour-busting scheme to be axed - safety project saw 2,000 young people taken into police protection in South Tyneside

An award-winning scheme launched to slash anti-social behaviour in South Tyneside and keep youngsters safe on the streets is to be axed.

By Lisa Nightingale
Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 1:59 pm
Inspector Stephen Prested
Inspector Stephen Prested

In the past 10 years, Operation Safestop has taken more than 2,000 at risk young people into police protection after being deemed as vulnerable by officers patrolling the streets at night.

It is understood that financial issues are behind the decision to scrap the scheme - which was the first of its kind to be launched in the country.

The scheme has been successful with under-age drinkers

The scheme allowed officers to take young people they deemed as being in a vulnerable position - because of their age, companions or nearby activity - to a police station and call on their parents to come and collect them.

The scheme has helped slash antisocial behaviour on a Friday and Saturday nights from 14,000 reports in 2008/9 to just over 4,000 in 2016/17 will be axed at the end of April.

Officers have vowed the end of the scheme does not mean they will stop tackling anti-social behaviour in the borough.

One supporter of the scheme, who wished not to be named said: “Some of the kids that have come through the doors over the years are genuinely at risk and because of this project we have prevented some potentially nasty things happening to them.”

Inspector Stephen Prested, of Northumbria Police, said: “The operation has been extremely successful in protecting vulnerable young people and guiding them onto the correct pathway.

“This kind of operation is only possible through teamwork and problem-solving, and we are incredibly proud of some of the major success stories that have been identified over the years.

“Operation Safestop coming to an end does not mean we will stop tackling anti-social behaviour in South Tyneside.”

A South Tyneside Council spokeswoman said: “Operation Safestop is a joint operation between Northumbria Police and the Council’s Youth Justice Service. While it enjoyed great success in the past, in recent years, the numbers of young people supported through the scheme has significantly dropped, with minimal referrals made to other services.

“The council continues to work closely with the police in identifying and supporting young people at risk of offending.

“However our focus has shifted to a more preventative approach with early help offered to families and young people to help stop problematic behaviour from escalating into offending.”