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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Row over 'Mischief Night' trip
Pumpkin face
Bricks, flour and eggs were thrown at people last year
A plan to send 50 youngsters to a theme park to stop them causing problems at Halloween has been dismissed as a "hare-brained" scheme.

The children are being taken to Alton Towers on 30 October - sometimes known as Mischief Night - under the initiative set up by Merseyside Police and Knowsley Borough Council.

It is hoped the trip will prevent the problems that hit Knowsley last year, which included bricks, flour and eggs being thrown at people and property.

However, some residents in the area - many of whom were forced to stay indoors last year - believe the youngsters do not deserve a "free handout".

The youngsters, aged between nine and 16, have committed a range of anti-social acts, including vandalism and graffiti, in the area.

It looks like the youngsters are being rewarded. It is a hare-brained scheme
Councillor David Smithson
Liberal Democrat councillor David Smithson, from Knowsley's Halewood ward, said he "understands the theory" behind the plan.

"But it is clearly not finding much favour with the residents," he said.

"It sends out the wrong message and with hindsight the plan is insensitive to the feelings of the residents.

"It looks like the youngsters are being rewarded. It is a hare-brained scheme."

Local resident Lawrence Fisher, 72, said the council should not even think about spending money on these youngsters.

"The last thing these thugs deserve is a free handout," he said.

'Youngsters' reward'

Merseyside Police said the trip would cost about 1,000 but insisted the youngsters going on the trip are not yobs.

Chief inspector Carl Krueger, chairman of the crime and disorder group which organised the trip with the council, said: "These are young people who have come to the attention of us because they are at risk of offending or have come close to offending.

"It is a reward to these young people who are working with us."

Mr Krueger said the trip was one of a number of initiatives that were being put in place to help curb anti-social behaviour in the area.

"These youngsters may be at risk of being roped into offending if they remained in Knowsley on Mischief Night," he said.

Halloween on the shelf
15 Oct 03  |  North East Wales

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