A TASKFORCE is tackling antisocial crime around a Worcester community centre.

The launch of the Perryfields Community Group, at the Horizon Community Centre in Midland Road, has united community leaders to provide opportunities for young people and make the area safer for residents.

During the coronavirus lockdown, police received reports of anti-social behaviour around the centre - however, since the launch of the group, youth crime has ‘significantly decreased’ in the area.

Following an approach by Worcestershire Community Foundation to city councillor Jabba Riaz to fund the project, a multi-agency task force was set up involving local young people, police, Worcester City Council and Worcester Community Trust which owns the Horizon Centre, leading to a coordinated push to resolve issues around youth crime in the Stanley Road area of Worcester.

Cllr Riaz said: “This is the start of something big at Perryfields and for our community that has traditionally never been able to access these types of opportunities.

“These kids just want to be heard and prove themselves to their families, to themselves and to the community.

“The police have stated since all the agencies have engaged, there has been a dramatic decrease in crime and reports.

“Now they will become a positive inspiration to other youngsters. I hope that this can become a pioneering project, a beacon of hope to all the community and a model that others can learn from.”

Kam Hussain, aged 25, said: “There are sessions every Thursday which brings all the youths together and that’s keeping them out of trouble and keeping them entertained in here.

“We have been doubling up in figures every week. The first week we started off with five people but now there are around 20 plus.

“We have put this together for the community as we had nothing here. Everything was taken away from us. We had a lot of issues during lockdown and now we’ve managed to pull all the big people in and progress.

“There was a lot of police reports here, so we had to come together as a community to set something up.”

The new group will give youngsters access to facilities at the centre, offering opportunities for them to gain new skills and enjoy a range of activities from table tennis, badminton, cricket and dodgeball.

Chief Inspector Gareth Morgan of West Mercia Police said: “We were receiving a number of reports of anti-social behaviour around the Horizon Centre and police were called up many, many times. So, with Cllr Riaz we sat down and discussed some of the issues.

“We had a community event and had an open and frank discussion on what the issues were. From that, it was clear the community wanted somewhere to do activities. A lot of centres were closed due to covid and they had nothing else to do but be out on the streets.

“What we have found is that since the activities have started, we’ve seen a significant decrease in anti-social behaviour in the area.

“One of the issues raised were the prevalence of heart attacks in the Asian community and this is one of the centres that didn’t have a defib. I spoke to a friend who is an MD of a medical supply centre who will donate one.

“I’m in awe of the community spirit they have here and the drive to take this place forward.”

Worcestershire Community Foundation has provided £10,000 to kickstart development of a new football pitch and communal facilities at the centre to encourage wider use.

The charities Young Solutions and Worcester Community Trust are working with the group to coordinate the project, ensure that their voices are heard and help them select which activities are provided.

Ruth Heywood, chief executive of Worcester Community Trust, added: “Six young people have already been signed up to a CS Card Course provided by the Building Block that will enable participants to work safely on building sites.

“Other planned programmes include workshops on cybersecurity, drugs and crime, and mental health issues.”

Roger Britton, trustee of Worcestershire Community Foundation, said: “Right from the start, when I met the young people at the basketball court at the centre I realised that I was talking to intelligent, articulate and ambitious people who knew what would make a difference to their community far better than I ever could.

“Worcestershire Community Foundation is proud to be led by these young people as we jointly develop an ambitious plan that will make a big difference.”