Page last updated at 00:03 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 01:03 UK

Free sports help cut youth crime

Big Bash sports event
Young people aged 10 to 17 years take part in the free sports sessions

A scheme which provides free sporting activities on a Saturday night for youngsters in North Lanarkshire has led to a fall in youth crime in the area.

As part of the Saturday SportScene project young people have been offered free swimming, skating, football, basketball and dance sessions.

Research showed a 34% drop in reports of youth disorder when the activities were taking place.

An event to mark the success of the project was held earlier this month.

More than 700 youngsters from across the region gathered at Wishaw Sports Centre for the Big Bash.

Former Celtic and Motherwell player Andy Walker, his former Scotland team mate Tom Boyd, and current Motherwell striker David Clarkson hosted the sporting event.

Saturday SportScene is partnership project provided by North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd, North Lanarkshire Council, Strathclyde Police, NHS Lanarkshire and the North Lanarkshire Community Safety Partnership.

The programme has been proven to greatly reduce reports of youth crime and antisocial behaviour
Blane Dodds
North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd

Young people take part in a programme of free activities at Airdrie Leisure Centre, Shotts Leisure Centre, Sir Matt Busby Sports Complex, Bellshill, and the Tryst Sports Centre in Cumbernauld between 6pm and 10pm on a Saturday evening.

Blane Dodds, chief executive of North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd said: "The programme has been proven to greatly reduce reports of youth crime and antisocial behaviour and has been very successful in engaging the young people in fun, sporting activities that they may well not have had the opportunity to take part in."

Councillor Jim Logue, chair of North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd, said: "The Saturday SportScene project has become a major success story.

"It helps address some of the concerns regarding young people's anti-social behaviour and provides an opportunity to get the kids of North Lanarkshire off the streets and into fun and healthy sporting activities."

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