POLICE in Shrewsbury are turning to cricket to stop anti-social behaviour and crime among young people.

West Mercia Police already organises various sporting initiatives to engage youngsters under its youth inclusion programme, especially in football, rugby and angling.

Many of these are run by local policing teams and have been so successful in building bridges with youngsters that anti-social behaviour has been significantly cut in many areas.

Following the success of other established sporting schemes, PC Scott Smither who runs the local policing youth inclusion team at Shrewsbury, has been pledged £600 from the West Mercia Police community safety fund to promote cricket activities among local children.

He said: “I'm delighted the Police Authority has approved our bid. The money will enable us to buy equipment for running outdoor and indoor cricket sessions the year-round for boys and girls in the area, including disabled youngsters.

“This is part of the police diversionary strategy where we engage with young people, encouraging them to pursue constructive and enjoyable activities.

“This has a positive effect on the whole community because it not only promotes a good relationship with the police but also helps divert them away from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour.”

PC Smither said youth inclusion schemes organised by local policing teams had played a significant role in reducing anti-social behaviour and crime in many areas.

“At the moment we lack any cricket teams and equipment but there are numerous young people interested in the sport as an activity they can enjoy with the police,” he added.

“We also have a local man who is a qualified coach who is willing to run training sessions.

“We would also like to support disability cricket which is dwindling in Shrewsbury due to lack of equipment and numbers.

“A club which previously had a large number of participants of all ages and disabilities, would benefit from our intervention.”