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EDITIONS
 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 07:31 GMT
Sports scheme 'cut street crime'
Reconstruction
Street crime has become a police priority
Organising sport and cultural activities for youngsters helps to cut street crime in deprived areas, government figures suggest.

Nearly 100,000 young people in ten parts of the UK took part last summer in Splash Extra, which received 9m of lottery money.

The scheme gives youngsters the chance to take part in activities such as drama, abseiling, circus skills and making videos and rap music.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said robbery and street crime had fallen by an average of 5.2% in these areas.

Children playing
The link between activities and crime is being debated
And in Avon and Somerset, it had fallen by 31% in parts of the region where Splash Extra was held, and risen by 56% where it had not.

Ms Jowell said: "Splash Extra is about getting young people off the sofas - and off the streets - and showing them that there are productive and enjoyable ways they can spend their time.

"It is also about giving them experiences that many children in more wealthy areas take for granted.

"The young people's appetite for this kind of positive experience is shown by the numbers that participated.

If we show these young people a better alternative to crime and anti-social behaviour now, we should see a marked improvement for these high crime areas in the future

Lord Warner
Youth Justice Board
"Summer Splash is clearly good for those who take part, but it is also good for those they live with and the community they live within."

She now wants to extend the scheme to other areas.

Splash Extra has been running for the past three summers but last year, there were twice as many participants than expected.

There were 296 schemes, which targeted children and young people aged nine to 17 who were identified as being at risk of offending.

Improvement

Lord Warner, chairman of the Youth Justice Board, also backed the scheme's effectiveness.

He said: "Many areas with little provision for young people were transformed by the projects last summer with residents, police and the young people themselves seeing a real improvement in youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

"If we show these young people a better alternative to crime and anti-social behaviour now, we should see a marked improvement for these high crime areas in the future as well as the youth justice system as a whole."

See also:

12 Jan 03 | Politics
21 Oct 02 | Wales
18 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
12 Sep 02 | Politics
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