A boxing club set up by police officers which aims to keep youngsters off the streets of Walsall has been hailed as a huge success.
Walsall Police Amateur Boxing Club launched nine months ago and has up to 40 people attended on any given night.
Police initiated the club and officers are there on a regular basis, getting to know teenagers while they build up their boxing skills.
Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, paid the club a visit last night to see how it is being run.
Pc Alan Poole helped set the club up in the first place after being approached by Ian Benton and Shaun Hargreaves, who now run it.
Pc Poole said the club – based on Maybrook Industrial Estate in Walsall Wood – was already proving a big success within the community.
“One of our big goals is to keep youngsters out of trouble,” he said.
“It breaks down barriers between the police and youngsters.
“Boxing teaches them respect, discipline and to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“And because we’ve got police officers there we can influence them – they see us as people and not a uniform. It’s already proving very successful and there are some kids there who, if they weren’t at the club would be getting into trouble.”
Although it is mostly attended by teenage boys, it is also open to girls and any age range, with a five-year-old youngster and a 65-year-old man being at the opposite end of the scale at the club.
The club is run by unpaid volunteers and has links to youth services and schools. It has been supported by several groups including Accord Housing, Walsall House Group, police charity Building Blocks and Rosie’s Helping Hands.