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.
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
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
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.
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