Youngsters say: Give me ASBO

YOUNGSTERS in St Neots have been asking for police reprimands, similar to ASBOs, to help them keep out of trouble, it has emerged. In a revealing interview with The Hunts Post, a neighbourhood policing officer said a number of youths had asked to be serve

YOUNGSTERS in St Neots have been asking for police reprimands, similar to ASBOs, to help them keep out of trouble, it has emerged.

In a revealing interview with The Hunts Post, a neighbourhood policing officer said a number of youths had asked to be served with acceptable behaviour contracts - ABCs - to distance them from their peers.

The revelation comes a week after a Cambridgeshire police launched a campaign cracking down on troublesome underage drinkers in the town.

Sgt Rachel Gourlay, head of the St Neots neighbourhood policing team, said: "ABCs are a step down from an ASBO and are issued to people who cause a persistent nuisance to their neighbours.

"Some youngsters are happy to get them because they say it gives them an excuse to say no to their friends - some have even asked for them."

Ten more youngsters were expected to be handed ABCs yesterday (Tuesday). ABCs are voluntary contracts drawn up between the police and the offender and are designed to help curb anti-social behaviour.

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Letters received by The Hunts Post from St Neots residents described trouble caused by teenage drinking as "intimidating" and "horrendous".

One in five children will admit to drinking alcohol in the past seven days, according to NHS figures.

Sgt Gourlay added: "It is a difficult problem to resolve, because once you start regular patrols in one area, the youths will shift somewhere else.

"Typically, problems include noise in the street, swearing and criminal damage. It affects people living in the houses next to the areas and ultimately reduces their quality of life."

Problem areas include Riverside Car Park, waste ground behind The Rainbow Store and Lidl car park.

Sgt Gourlay said: "At the weekend, we had problems around Little Paxton village hall with large groups of youths, while the skate park is another hotspot.

"In large groups, young people can look very intimidating.

"Young people will always find somewhere else to hang out but we aim to stop them congregating in such large numbers."

* What are your experiences of anti-social behaviour or teenage drinking in St Neots? Email your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, PE29 3TB.

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