Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 12.32.33A range of activities will be on offer for young people in South Tyneside over the next few weeks as a new campaign aimed at cracking down on anti-social behaviour gets underway.

South Tyneside Council has joined forces with Northumbria Police, South Tyneside Homes and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to run the annual Lighter Nights campaign. The theme of this year’s campaign aims to highlight that an appliance can’t be in two places at once.

Coinciding with the Easter Holidays and the clocks going forward the campaign will run from Thursday, 24th March – Sunday 10th April.

Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety, said: “We take part in this annual campaign because it is highly effective. Since last year we have seen a 66 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour and there has been a drastic drop in the number of grass fires – which is always a particular concern at this time of year.”

As part of the campaign, a range of events and activities are being offered to the Borough’s young people.

Among the activities on offer is a barbecue and climbing session at Simonside Climbing Wall on Thursday, 24 March.  As well as 50 climbing routes, a new ‘interactive digital traverse wall’ – which is the first in the North East – will also be available for the session which run from 5.30pm to 9.30pm. Children from the age of five and families are welcome.

Two five-a-side football tournaments are also being held as part of the campaign. The first will be held on Friday, 1 April between 7pm and 9pm on the outdoor 3G pitch at Clegwell Community Association in Hebburn and the second will be held on Friday, 8 April between 7pm and 9pm at the outdoor pitch at Temple Park Leisure centre in South Shields.

Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “As the days get longer, it is understandable that our young people will want to spend more time outdoors. These free opportunities are aimed at giving our young people a taste of some of the varied activities in the Borough while also learning how anti-social behaviour affects their community.

“Last year these particular activities were very well received with more than 200 people coming to both the climbing wall session and the football tournaments.

“South Tyneside Council is providing some really great activities for young people that is giving them the opportunity to get involved in something fun where they can also meet up with their friends and we’d encourage people to make the most of these – go along and join in.”

T/Supt Sarah Pitt said: “We’re coming up to the time when the clocks go forward and the evenings will start to get lighter, and hopefully warmer, and we know young people will be spending more time outdoors meeting up with their friends. Sometimes young people gathering in the street can be intimidating to other people, even if they are just talking it can cause residents particularly those who are elderly or more vulnerable to feel intimidated.”

District Manager for South Tyneside Bill Forster, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are delighted to be working with our partners again as part of the very successful Lighter Nights campaign.

“Between April and May we see a significant increase in anti-social behaviour (ASB) fires, with incidents peaking between 7pm and 8pm. April is actually our busiest month in terms of deliberately started fires – even more so than November, which includes the busy Bonfire period. This campaign is a real opportunity to reduce these types of fire.

“Whilst our crews are attending ASB fires they are unavailable for more life threatening incidents or to undertake critical training or work to help prevent fires from happening in the first place.”

To find out more about the climbing session, contact Martin Simpson at: martin.simpson@southtyneside.gov.uk or by telephoning: 0191 424 0118.

To enter a team for the five-a-side competitions (11-12, 13-14 and 15-17 age groups) please contact Chris Thompson at: chris.thompson@southtyneside.gov.uk or by telephoning: 0191 424 7845.