By Luke Hudson
RESIDENTS and community groups are working together to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour and youth crime in Aireborough.
It follows a series of incidents over the recent months which have been widely reported on local Facebook forums, including an assault involving a laser pen which left a worker from the Guiseley branch of McDonald’s needing hospital treatment for eye injuries.
And a shocking video posted by Tom Rawlinson on the Guiseley and Yeadon Facebook group also shows youths setting fire to each other outside the same McDonald’s.
He called it: “Utter stupidity.”
Now local organisations including the Guiseley and Rawdon Labour Party and Codswallop – a creative group – are working with police to look at solutions to turn young people away from crime.
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police Outer North West team said: “We will be linking with McDonald’s management to address community concerns around this issue.
“We take action where appropriate against individuals and follow up with local authorities, schools and parents to support individuals into more productive paths.”
Kirsty McKay, is secretary of Guiseley and Rawdon Labour Party and member of the local group Action for Aireborough Young People.
Ms McKay said: “I have been shocked and saddened to hear about the recent increase in anti-social behaviour. We are keen to help make a real difference in our local community.
“We have lots of ideas at the moment. Everyone has things to work on following a recent meeting but this is the early stages. We may be able to get activities going quickly, but others will take time as fundraising can be a slow process.”
One idea being discussed involves renovating a nearby mill into a youth hub and base for activities.
Jacob Phillips, 22, artistic director of performing arts group Codswallop said: “Every week we work with around 70 young people with our Oddballs groups and elderly people with our Not Grown Up Club. We discussed anti-social behaviour with both.
“The Oddballs consensus was that they too were upset with the behaviour of their peers, and most importantly – they are frustrated at the reputation they are gaining at the fault of others.
“The NGUC had conflicting views, many of which reflect the negative opinions on social media. Others had a compassionate view examining the reasons.
“It transpired that many of them did similar things in their youth, including stones through windows and setting drain pipes on fire.
“By no means do I think the behaviour is acceptable, but young people are fully aware of how they are being described, creating more anger and more reckless behaviour.”
One young person, who used to be involved in anti-social behaviour, spoke about how easy it is for teenagers to become involved in anti-social behaviour and crime.
The 17-year-old, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “When I was about 14 I was introduced to a group of people who were out doing stuff like shoplifting, graffiti, setting fire to things, throwing eggs and just loitering around.
“It was very drug and smoking orientated. There were police involved quite a lot of the time.
“At McDonald’s, we would go in, buy a 99p drink and then sit there for three hours. People would roll joints in the toilets and sometimes even at the table.
“I know there were a few smashed windows as well. And when we were asked to leave we would just ask why and challenge the staff.
“A lot of the trouble comes from younger people mixing with older people because there are a lot of bad people around Yeadon and Guiseley.
“There are people with knives. Especially the drug dealers. These are people that you definitely stay away from.
“We get taught from an early age that experimenting with drugs and smoking is wrong – a black and white. A lot of the issues come from rebellion and curiosity.
“I think there should be more education on the consequences rather than a straight yes or no. Young people often don’t have their say or a chance to discuss things.
“There definitely needs to be a wider range of support groups and things to do. But I think it’s unrealistic to think that this is going to stop with a simple solution. It’s just being a teenager – wanting to go out causing trouble and hassle is all part of it.”