A new scheme to combat antisocial behaviour in and around Caerphilly town during the summer has been praised for its success.
A series of Friday night street rugby events, organised by the British Transport Police, have been held in Caerphilly.
Since the initiative was launched at the start of August, police have not received any reports of weekend antisocial behaviour in the area.
Police have said August usually sees a spike in antisocial behaviour, especially among those aged 11 to 18. Working with the WRU and Caerphilly County Borough Council, the rugby sessions aimed to encourage youngsters into local sports clubs.
The last event in the series is being held tonight between 6pm and 9pm at the Owain Glyndwr fields off Crescent Road, Caerphilly.
Event organiser PCSO Lewis Parsons, of British Transport Police, said: “With the warm weather and long nights, summer is a time when, traditionally, incidents of anti-social behaviour, trespassing, stone throwing and vandalism increase.
“This has certainly been the case in the past, with Caerphilly, Aber and Llanbradach historically seeing an increase in reported crime along the rail network at this time of year. The vast majority of these offences are committed by young people of secondary school age.
“Having spoken to a number of youngsters in the area, we are frequently told there isn’t much for them to do, especially on a Friday night. They tend to be too young to go to pubs and clubs, but are a bit too old for youth clubs.
“With this in mind, we decided to run a series of street rugby events over the summer break to tackle these issues head-on and deal with them before they arise.
“We have already engaged with more than 100 youngsters over the course of the first two street rugby events on August 1 and August 8, both of which were a huge success – so much so that not a single report of anti-social behaviour was received in the Caerphilly area by either BTP or Gwent Police during those weekends.”
Each of the sessions is open to boys and girls of all ages. Entry is free and all participants have an opportunity to learn and hone their rugby skills before putting them to the test in a specially designed inflatable rugby “cage”.
PCSO Parsons added: “While tackling antisocial behaviour and preventing trespass on the railway is obviously at the heart of these events, it is also a great opportunity to access local activities and services while having plenty of fun during the rugby.
“If the participants enjoy themselves and get a taste for rugby, we will have WRU officers present that can put them in touch with their local clubs.
“It’s about energising them and channelling that energy in the correct way via sport, not through messing around on the streets or on the railway.
“One of the key aims is to help them become more aware of how their behaviour impacts on the communities they live in. I hope that providing teenagers with a meaningful regular activity during the summer holidays will help make them less vulnerable to making bad decisions and, subsequently, less likely to get involved in criminality.”