An all-expenses-paid trip for a group of Crowland youths to watch the England football team in London before Easter has alarmed members of the community.
It is thought that a “minibus load” of youths from Crowland watched England play Italy at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday, March 27, with tickets, travel and refreshments costs met by Lincolnshire youth organisation Positive Futures.
Launched in September 2009 to help children and young people aged eight to 24 and at risk from school exclusion, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and disorder, Positive Futures run 90-minute football sessions in Crowland on Tuesday nights.
A volunteer in Crowland, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “Last summer, Positive Futures ran some football sessions for youths in Crowland.
“I heard, from a couple of people, that a group of youths who went to the football sessions went to Wembley Stadium in a minibus to watch the England versus Italy game.
“So I wanted the parish council to look into it because it’s not right that those who misbehave in Crowland are being rewarded.”
In my time as a youth worker, you wouldn’t reward the naughty ones but you would reward the good ones and I believe that this trip to London is sending out totally the wrong messageCoun Cathie Elphee, chairman of Crowland Parish Council
Details of the Wembley trip emerged during a meeting of Crowland Parish Council on Monday when chairman Coun Cathie Elphee described at as “sending out totally the wrong message”.
Coun Elphee said: “In my time as a youth worker, you wouldn’t reward the naughty ones but you would reward the good ones.
“There aren’t as many youth services around these days because of public sector cuts, but I believe this trip to London is sending out totally the wrong message.”
Police have stepped up patrols in Crowland over recent months after a spate of incidents, including hate crimes against the elderly and disabled, cars being vandalised, house windows smashed and even Crowland Abbey having been targeted.
Parish councillors were told that Lincolnshire Police had received 16 reports of anti-social behaviour in Crowland during March, up from 12 for the same month last year and just four in March 2016.
Coun Bryan Alcock, parish and district councillor for Crowland, said: “I’m disappointed to hear that a group of youths from Crowland were taken to a football game, paid for by Positive Futures.
“I can only imagine that the youth who went were those who have responded positively to Positive Futures’ intervention and if that’s the case, there’s some justification for doing it.
“But one of the worrying things is that we keep being told ‘Something is happening and we’re working on something’, except we don’t really see any results.
“Wouldn’t we, as the elected representatives of the town, like to know when they are doing these things because the whole impetus of the police action in Crowland actually came from the parish council?”
Jo Kavanagh, assistant director of children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, which oversees the running of Positive Futures, said: “The county council’s Positive Futures team has been working with the police to help reduce anti-social behaviour in the Crowland area.
“Young people have been redirected to regular weekly football sessions and, as a reward for their efforts and commitment to regular sessions over the last year, seven young people were invited to the England versus Italy trip.
“This came after the Positive Futures team were given discounted tickets for the game and we are delighted that young people in the area are engaging with us in this way.
“The Positive Futures team, and its partners, provide positive activities to children and young people throughout the county.”
Positive Futures, along with South Holland District Council’s anti-social behaviour team and Lincolnshire Police, are jointly working together to address ongoing issues of youth anti-social behaviour in Crowland.
A Lincolnshire County Council children’s services spokesman said: “Positive Futures has really been a success in reducing anti-social behaviour in the local area and redirecting young people to positive exercise and engagement.
“Therefore, it is hoped that the success of this scheme will be replicated elsewhere.”
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