SOLDIERS put teenagers through their paces in Birkenhead Park as part of an inspirational scheme aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour.

The group, from Birkenhead Park School were set a series of challenges as part of The Pathfinder Project on Thursday.

The scheme gives those aged 13 and up a week of activities designed to show them the rewards of making positive choices in their lives.

It is hoped the result will be a reduction in offending in the areas the children are from.

It was launched two years ago by Merseyside Police, Wirral Council and Sports Development youth workers, to provide activities for young people at risk of being drawn into anti-social behaviour.

Last month, 40 young people from years nine and 10 at Woodchurch High School took part in activities including a visit to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service training centre in Croxteth and to the CELLS Project which educates children and young people on the consequences of crime.

They also had a day off road mountain biking in Delamere Forest and with The Army in Birkenhead Park, followed by a sports session at Bidston Tennis Centre.

The week concluded with a ceremony at Gautby Road Play Centre where the Mayor as well as former undisputed welter weight world champion boxer John H Stracey presented the participants with awards.

Community sergeant Danny Murphy said: "I know from my time policing the area that some of the young people lack a clear direction, and that can lead them to make poor choices like spending their time committing anti-social behaviour or even getting drawn into serious and organised crime.

"We have a small, but diverse collaboration team who tailored the week of activities to both inspire and educate, with the ultimate aim being to steer them towards making decisions that will give them confidence and a positive future.

"The group we have had this week have been outstanding with engagement levels high.

"It is all about showing young people that there is nothing glamorous about a life of crime - there is nothing to be gained from causing other people misery or ending up behind bars.

"So far the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with many saying their view of police has greatly improved and that they are less likely to consider committing a crime after hearing about the impact of crime on victims, families and offenders.

"We have had interest from other forces keen to replicate the success of the scheme in their own areas and we hope it inspires many more young people to do the right thing."

More than 100 young people from Wirral schools participated in 2018, with 46% saying they had changed their attitudes towards the police in a more positive way and 73% stating they were deterred from committing crime by understanding the consequences.

A total of 91% reported their confidence had increased and 60% reported increased knowledge about crime and consequences.

Cllr Paul Stuart, Wirral cabinet member for law and order, said: "We are committed to reducing anti-social behaviour in Wirral and working with young people who may be deemed at risk of committing offences is an example of positive and preventative work, supported by the Safer Wirral Hub, that I, for one, am proud of.

"The Pathfinder Project's cross-agency partnership between several council teams and our local partners has had a positive effect on community cohesion and reducing ASB which will improve the lives of residents across the Borough, alongside the young people directly involved."