Arrests as youth gang is targeted

A police operation to target anti-social behaviour in south east Northumberland has led to four arrests.

Operation Leopard was set up in Blyth after officers identified problems in the town centre, where large groups of youths were gathering on bikes and scratching cars.

The same group of around 15 youngsters was also being blamed for being disruptive and abusive in the main shopping area.

The operation, run by the neighbourhood policing team, focused on the group members, seizing their bikes and using stop searches and town centre CCTV images to gather evidence and identify the offenders.

Four youths were arrested while 17 were stopped and searched. Letters were sent to parents of all the youngsters stopped.

Officers visited local youth clubs to talk about criminal damage and its repercussions, and linked in with a local housing provider, which is taking tenancy-enforcement action at two properties.

Acting Blyth Neighbourhood Inspector Garry Neill said: “This operation had a positive impact on calls over recent months and even over the summer holidays there have been few calls of this nature.

“Although this was a relatively small number of youngsters, the problems they were causing were having an impact on the wider community.”