Army officers were put young people through their paces in Birkenhead Park today (Thursday 14 February 2019) as part of a project to inspire them.
The partnership project, first created in 2017 by Merseyside Police, Wirral Council and Sports Development youth workers, was set up to provide activities for young people in Wirral at risk of being drawn into anti-social behaviour.
The Pathfinder Project gives local children from aged 13 onwards a week of activities designed to show them the rewards of making positive choices in their lives, and it is hoped the result will be a reduction in offending in the areas the children are from.
Today, pupils from The Birkenhead Park School were challenged to perform a range of puzzles under the watchful eye of the Army.
Last month, 40 young people from Years 9 and 10 at Woodchurch High School took part in activities including a visit to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service training centre in Croxteth, and to the CELLS Project which educates children and young people on the consequences of crime. They also had a day off road mountain biking in Delamere Forest and with The Army in Birkenhead Park, followed by a sports session at Bidston Tennis Centre on Friday.
The week concluded with a ceremony at Gautby Road Play Centre where the Mayor as well as former undisputed welter weight world champion boxer John H Stracey presented the participants with awards.
A total of £10,000 of funding was secured from the Police and Crime Commissioner fund for 2019 for the project, which has been developed by Merseyside Police, Wirral Council and Sports Development youth workers in partnership with the Gautby Road Play and Community Centre, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, CELLS project, Birkenhead Constituency team, Leisure services, Wirral Council’s Sports Development team, TRACs mountain biking and the Army.
Community Sergeant Danny Murphy said: "I know from my time policing the area that some of the young people lack a clear direction, and that can lead them to make poor choices like spending their time committing anti-social behaviour or even getting drawn into serious and organised crime.
"We have a small, but diverse collaboration team who tailored the week of activities to both inspire and educate, with the ultimate aim being to steer them towards making decisions that will give them confidence and a positive future. The group we have had this week have been outstanding with engagement levels high.
"It is all about showing young people that there is nothing glamorous about a life of crime - there is nothing to be gained from causing other people misery or ending up behind bars.
"So far the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with many saying their view of police has greatly improved and that they are less likely to consider committing a crime after hearing about the impact of crime on victims, families and offenders.
"We have had interest from other forces keen to replicate the success of the scheme in their own areas and we hope it inspires many more young people to do the right thing."
More than 100 young people from Wirral schools participated in 2018, with 46% saying they had changed their attitudes towards the police in a more positive way and 73% stating they were deterred from committing crime by understanding the consequences. A total of 91% reported their confidence had increased and 60% reported increased knowledge about crime and consequences.
Cllr Paul Stuart, Wirral Council cabinet member for Law and Order, said of the project said: “We are committed to reducing anti-social behaviour in Wirral and working with young people who may be deemed at risk of committing offenses is an example of positive and preventative work, supported by the Safer Wirral Hub, that I, for one, am proud of.
“The Pathfinder Project’s cross-agency partnership between several council teams and our local partners has had a positive effect on community cohesion and reducing ASB which will improve the lives of residents across the Borough, alongside the young people directly involved.”