YOUNGSTERS at a York primary school teamed up with the police to inspect their local area for signs of anti-social behaviour.

Haxby and Wigginton safer neighbourhood team invited pupils from Ralph Butterfield School, in Haxby, to become police officers for the day.

The children were told to look out for cases of graffiti, vandalism, dog fouling, littering and speeding – and report them to the relevant authority.

The aim was to give the children a flavour of the work of a police officer, while encouraging them to take responsibility for their community.

PCSO Thomas Laurie, of the Haxby and Wigginton safer neighbourhood team, said: “We wanted to make them aware that everybody is responsible for looking out for these problems and reporting them.

“An area that is neglected is more likely to become more neglected, so if you don’t get graffiti cleaned off quickly, it’s likely to become a major problem.

“An environmental visual audit is something we do every three months – we walk around an area looking for signal crime, which can be anything from graffiti and littering to speeding and dog fouling.

“It’s any incident or crime that changes a person’s behaviour – if you go into an area where there are lots of burnt out cars and graffiti, then you’ll probably subconsciously feel like you are in danger and alter your behaviour.” He said the children were extremely “switched on” and spotted things that even he hadn’t noticed.

“We wanted them to recognise the signs of when things are starting to go wrong and take responsibility for it because it’s their community,” he said.

“Before going out, we also gave the Year 6 classes a lesson to get the message across that it’s not a good thing to vandalise other people’s property and there’s a price to pay if you do something like this.

“We told the kids that the police would investigate cases of graffiti and try and find out who’s responsible and we have a big success rate in finding them. If we get to children at a young age and give them a sense of value of the community, they are less likely to go on to cause problems.”