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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 10:06 GMT
Night experiment cuts youth trouble

By Natalie Grice
BBC Wales News website

As a three-month trial allowing police to disperse groups of youngsters and send under-16s home at night ends, what impact has it had?

The Bayside housing estate in the Splott area of Cardiff does not at first sight look like an area plagued by anti-social elements.

Bayside estate
Residents on the Bayside estate say it has been " a lot quieter"
The houses are modern red-brick, apparently free from vandalism or graffiti. There are no burnt-out or damaged cars in the streets.

Admittedly, standing slightly isolated on the edge of an industrial estate, it is perhaps not the most welcoming place, but older streets of terraced houses are only a minute's walk away.

But the council felt there was such a problem with behaviour it took the step of introducing a special order covering the estate, local businesses and a number of nearby terraces.

That gave the police the power to disperse any groups (defined as two people or more) they felt were likely to cause a nuisance to local people late at night.

They were also able to take children under 16 to their homes.

The trial came to an official end at 1800 GMT on Wednesday.

Police said there was a 57% reduction in "youth-related annoyance" compared to the three months before the trail, and a 51% fall in all anti-social type incidents, including drink-related offences, criminal damage and noise nuisance.

In that time two local youths have received individual anti-social behaviour orders.

Young people were not just penalised during the scheme. Cardiff Community Safety Partnership organised what they called a series of "diversionary, leisure-based and educational initiatives for youths".

So what has been the local reaction to the trial?

Maqbool Sadiq
Chip shop owner Maqbool Sadiq says it has been 'much quieter'
Maqbool Sadiq, who has run the local chip shop across the road from Bayside for five years, was pleased with the outcome.

"It's been a good idea," he said. "It's definitely worked and been quieter.

He said in the past they had had kids messing about outside the shop until quite late, sometimes past 2100 GMT.

"We have had windows smashed here on a number of occasions, broken by the same kids," he added.

Father-of-two Stuart Nunn lives on the estate and agreed with Mr Sadiq.

"It's been a lot quieter," he told the BBC Wales news website. "There's not so many kids around past nine at night."

According to Mr Nunn, up to 30 young people would gather near his home in the evenings.

I often see groups of kids out on the street - so what? They're just kids

However, when asked what damage they did, he said it was mostly just smoking and swearing, although one time he had seen two youths smashing up a bike.

He admitted as a teenager he would also spend time in the streets in the evenings.

But he said he would ensure his children, currently aged five and two, would be indoors by nine when they were young teenagers.

Not everybody was so enthusiastic with the scheme.

One nearby resident, who did not want to be named, commented: "If you take it to its logical conclusion and keep the whole population under house arrest, there'll be no crime at all, but you wouldn't want to live in the country.

"I've lived in the area for 14 years and I've never been burgled, I've never had any problem with kids.

"I often see groups of kids out on the street - so what? They're just kids."

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