Original article written by Steve Pocock for ‘Totnes Times’, Friday 4th May 2018:

Police are looking into recruiting martial arts and sports experts in the battle to keep youngers away from crime, drugs and antisocial behaviour.

They want to set up a youth project in Totnes backed by a kung fu martial arts school and a group dedicated to helping people through sport.

The project is being promoted by PCSO Kirsty Powell who has just outlined her proposals to Totnes Town Council in a bid to raise funding.

The project comes at a time when Friday night youth nights at the Pavilion, aimed at teenagers, have been axed and South Hams District Council had admitted it has been forced to consider closing youth facilitaties at Borough Park becuase of vandalism.

PCSO Powell said she wants to “divert young people away from antisocial behaviour, crime and drugs”. She said: “I have enlisted the help of two organisations to engage with the young members of our community and help us to safeguard them and, in line with Every Child Matters, I feel this is an effective use of a community project.”

She said one group is the Hu Long Temple, run by Chinese Martial arts experts Matt Bindon and Kim-Leng. She told councillors: “They are highly trained in working with children and adults with life limiting illnesses, learning disabilities, mental health issues and complex needs along with victims of crime.”¬†She said they were promoting a project where young people could be referred to Hu Long Temple for support. “This could be issues such as low self-esteem resulting in antisocial behaviour at home or at school or perhaps they have been previous victims of abuse or at a simplistic level where some young people lack direction and focus and therefore may start making bad decisions,” she said.

The second group is Love Sport project run by Toby Chant, which aims to “enrich the lives of individuals, families, communities through sport,” said PCSO Powell. “They focus on positive core values and remove social and economic barriers from their sessions. They have access to a lot. They have a ‘cage’ for football games, they have a basketball league, they have staff memebers who are qualified counsellors, they have access to music equipment and most importantly they are keen to get this launched in Totnes. They have access to transport, so it could be possible that more rural areas may be able to join in.”

PCSO Powell said she was trying to raise funding for hte project which could grow to cover the South Hams. The PCSO’s proposals were outlined at a meeting of the council’s people committee and it was agreed to recommend that the council should support the initiative. They also referred PCSO Powell to the application procedures to access the council’s Paige Adams Fund — a pot of cash adminstered by th council for community use.