Converted van to drive into town to help tackle youth disorder

Inspector John Smith.
Inspector John Smith.

A converted van will drive into South Tyneside, tonight, to create a place for young people to go.

The vehicle, provided by the council’s youth services, will be parked up outside McDonald’s in King Street and the Harton Moor Estate, tonight.

Councillor Tracey Dixon.

Councillor Tracey Dixon.

The bus - a converted luton box van - is equipped with TV screens, playstation consoles, playstation games and sports equipment.

It has seating inside, floodlighting, power generators and solar panels.

Officers from the local neighbourhood policing team will be aboard the bus to speak to young people.

Neighbourhood Inspector John Smith said: “The buses provide a central location for young people to gather and meet their friends. It has plenty of entertainment on board and comfortable seating. As the nights start to get darker it is an ideal venue for young people to meet up and we would encourage them to do so.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “As outlined in my Police and Crime Plan, dealing effectively with anti-social behaviour is one of my priorities and I fully support this council-funded initiative which will help our officers respond directly to the public’s concerns.

“The bus will provide an opportunity for our officers to pro-actively engage with young people, rather than waiting for young people to go to them.

“It’s a great initiative offering a safe and fun place for young people to meet up while enabling officers to build relations and get the message across about the impact antisocial behaviour can have on our communities.”

Southern Area Command incorporating Sunderland and South Tyneside is currently running Operation Gryphon, aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.

Insp Smith added: “We know young people want to meet up with their friends, but often if there are lots of them gathering together it can be it becomes rowdy or it gives the general perception to other members of the community that they are causing anti-social behaviour and we work very closely with our partner agencies to make sure their are other activities for them to get involved. The Youth Bus is a perfect example of this.”

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “This fantastic scheme will provide teenagers with a safe and fun place to hang-out as the nights start to get darker.

“We understand that the vast majority of young people simply want to have fun with their friends, but for some residents, seeing large groups of youths on the streets can be disconcerting. The Youth Bus is a simple solution to this problem and offers teenagers the chance to meet up with their friends and try out the latest games.

“I would encourage young people from across the Borough to get involved and take advantage of the variety of activities the Youth Bus has to offer.”

The bus will be visit McDonalds in King Street on tonight between 6pm and 7.30pm and Harton Moor Estate between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.