HOME Secretary Theresa May visited Chester to heap praise on a scheme aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.
Fresh from attending the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mrs May went to Blacon High School yesterday to see Chester Outer Police’s Cage Football scheme in action.
The scheme was aimed at giving youngsters in Blacon something to do in the summer holidays and a metal cage, which can be transported to different areas and is big enough for games of three-a-side, has been keeping young people occupied in the area, leading to a drop in anti-social behaviour.
The scheme has also led to success with three teams from Blacon competing in the UK Street Soccer Championships and one of the teams – DCS made up of Kieran Ball, Deri Corfe and Christoph Aziamale, all from Blacon – winning the under 18 national title.
Mrs May said: “I think it is a great scheme and talking to the police it is obvious it has had a tremendous effect.
“It is great because it isn’t just having an impact on anti-social behaviour, it is making the young people have more interaction with the PSCOs, the police and local volunteers in the community, and they are also having great time.
“I’ve been talking to the police and they said they are hoping to get more funding to role it out across more of the local area. I think it is a very good thing to know about because it is obviously working.”
Chester MP Stephen Mosley, who accompanied Mrs May, said: “It’s an amazing scheme and the kids are so enthusiastic. The first time I saw it was at the Blacon Festival and you had kids queueing up to get involved.
“Normally when the police are involved, the kids are running off in the opposite direction. This time the kids were wanting to get involved, wanting to talk, wanting to play and it’s an absolutely great scheme.
“You can see how successful it has been with the team from Blacon winning the national championships.
“It has been a fantastic success, it has great backing from local businesses. It has been sponsored by Land Rover who move the cages round and we want more people to get involved to get more sponsorship so we can role it out more communities around Chester.”
Adrian Carr, assistant head at the Melbourne Road school, said lots of groups in Blacon were working together to make it work.
He said: “It is very much a police project but we have supported it is by giving our site.
“The fundamental aim has been around anti-social behaviour and it’s great because we have the community working together.”
He added: “It’s really cool that what has started here in Blacon has led to teams going down to Birmingham and one coming away with a trophy so it has been a real positive experience.”
One person perhaps not so delighted to see the national trophy come back to Blacon was PCSO Tom McDermott, who was hit hard in the pocket.
He said: “The win was brilliant although it cost me about £54 because I put a bet on with the teams we took down.
“I said if one of them won I’d get them a McDonald’s on the way home. It was an expensive day in the end.”