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Watton crime falls after youth launch

PUBLISHED: 09:09 29 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:46 08 July 2010

Crime in Watton has dropped to an unexpected low following the launch of a major youth scheme which seeks to engage teenagers and give them a voice.

Norfolk police confirmed that anti-social behaviour in the town has fallen from 13 incidents in October to nil in December when the council-backed Project Rainbow began.

Crime in Watton has dropped to an unexpected low following the launch of a major youth scheme which seeks to engage teenagers and give them a voice.

Norfolk police confirmed that anti-social behaviour in the town has fallen from 13 incidents in October to nil in December when the council-backed Project Rainbow began.

Recent crime figures for the area also remain low, with only two minor incidents reported in January.

Recognising the need for a venue for young people to channel their energies in a positive way, businessmen and councillors are now looking to convert the former doctor's surgery in St Giles Road into a drop-in centre.

Plans also include an indoor activity centre and a town park on the fields near Watton Sports Centre. The activity centre would offer facilities for a range of sports and activities including a skate and BMX park.

“The sharp drop in crime is a testament not only to the good work carried out by the Safer Neighbourhoods Team which has been deeply involved in cracking down on crime, but also to the project which is now giving youngsters a voice and will actively engage them in the future,” said Paul Smith, core team member of West Norfolk's two Crime Disorder Reduction Partnerships.

“We have seen a sharp decline in crime which is very good news not only to the police, but also to the people of Watton.”

Julian Horn, one of the businessmen in town spearheading the project, added: “It can surely be no coincidence that the occurrence of anti-social behaviour has fallen dramatically since the project was launched in December.

“Indeed, Norfolk police believes that this is due in part to young people feeling their voice has been heard and action is being taken.”

Mr Horn however insisted that the success of the project hinges entirely on the sale of a piece of land in Harvey Street currently in the trusteeship of the council.

The authority needs the approval from the Charity Commission before it can dispose of the field, which could fetch £500,000.

If the body agrees to the sale, councillors can then consider acquiring the surgery and start work on the activity centre near the current sports facility.

If the council receives a favourable response from the body, youngsters in Watton will be heavily engaged in fundraising through a series of activities.

Meanwhile, Mr Horn said business leaders were working against the clock to acquire a former doctor's surgery before it is snapped up for housing.

Norwich-based Iceni Developments, which owns the property, has submitted an application for 14 homes at the site in St Giles Road.

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