Caerphilly does it for Wales

16 July 2015

PCSO Lewis Parsons, currently our PCSO Of The Year and one of the many CSOs across Wales funded by the Welsh Government, writes about his new initiative to reduce crime and get the youth of a Welsh town back into sport.
Have you joined in with Fab Fridays in Wales? Have you noticed a difference in Caerphilly or on the Valleys Lines? What do you think about the scheme? Join in the discussion in the comments below.

Lewis Parsons
Isn’t it strange how some stations seem to become the ideal hangout spot? It’s a problem we’re all too familiar with in the Force, and while everyone’s free to come and go at stations as they please, it can become a real problem if everyone else using the station doesn’t feel safe.

This happened at Caerphilly in the past year or so. The station’s part of the busy Valleys and Cardiff Local Routes networks on one of a series of lines running north from the capital. We had reports of more than 80 youths gathering at the station, committing anti-social behaviour, trespassing on the line and causing numerous problems for rail staff and passengers.

We decided we’d have to take a zero tolerance approach. While this can mean making sure we take firm action against anyone who disrupts what is otherwise a peaceful station, the other side of this is making sure we’re doing something to proactively prevent problems happening in the first place.

So working with Gwent Police, we went into the schools and spoke to them about the issues and the dangers of the railway. We also listened to what young people had to say: the one thing that we heard a lot – as is so often the case with anti-social behaviour – was there was nothing for them to do in the area.Premier League kicks in Wales

I met with John Poyner from Caerphilly County Borough Council and Anthony Palmer from the Welsh Rugby Union last summer. Together with Gwent Police PCSO Matt Pearce, we decided to put on a Street Rugby event every Friday in August.

The events were a great success – we got more than 150 young persons playing rugby, engaging with the policing teams and having great time, but best of all anti-social behaviour in area dropped considerably over that period.

But after the Street Rugby came to an end, the success was short-lived. Due to more events taking place in Cardiff and the Christmas period needing extra attention, Caerphilly sort of got neglected, so anti-social behaviour went up again. We received more than 35 calls in two-and-a-half months. Elsewhere, Gwent Police were inundated with problems back on the rise.

None of us could ignore the fact that the Street Rugby was such a success, and the fall in crime was no coincidence. It wasn’t a difficult decision to make it a permanent event. This time, though, we got £1,000 of funding from Street Games for sports equipment and Twyn School, Caerphilly, to let us use their facilities. On 23 January 2015, Fab Fridays was born!

Since then we have engaged with hundreds of young people and have included a number of different sports from football, golf and boxing, to dodgeball and so much more to come, and we formed a great new partnership with Cardiff City FC Premier League Kicks project. We’re also starting a Fab Fridays Girls project which will see a girls-only youth club in Caerphilly.

And guess what? Since February, we’ve only received 3 anti-social behaviour calls to Caerphilly station.

Previous blogs

Have your say

Your comments will be moderated in advanced and may take a while to appear.

Contact Us

To report a crime or incident, call

0800 40 50 40

or text 61016

In an emergency call 999