TOWNS across the North East have been shown to be some of the most potentially dangerous places to live for young people.

Middlesbrough has the unwanted place at the top of the table compiled by the crime and justice consultancy, Crest Advisory.

Hartlepool and Newcastle also come in the top ten of towns were 11-17 yer-olds were in danger of becoming involved in violence, the victim of violence or witnessing violence.

The report shows that more than 213,000 children in England are at risk with Middlesbrough facing the highest percentage in the country – 4,335 at risk, 37 per cent of 11-17 year olds in the area.

Neighbouring Hartlepool came in sixth place according to the data with 2,017 young people, 26 per cent, at risk.

The findings are contained in a report titled “Violence and Vulnerability” which also includes an innovative way of mapping connections between young people who may be involved in violence.

The technique, known as “Social Network Analysis” (SNA), shows the links between 57 young people and the violent incidents they witnessed or were involved in, as well as where they go to school.

Harvey Redgrave, Crest Advisory Chief Executive, said: "While only a small minority of young people are directly bound up in violence, our research shows many more are potentially at risk, many of them living in some of our most deprived communities in the country."

The report, funded by the Dawes Trust, found evidence of a shift towards younger offenders and victims of violence and produced an estimate for the number of children who live in areas with high levels of crime and families on low incomes, making them among the most vulnerable.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is often undertaken by police to provide information about the reach and nature of organised crime groups, but was used by Crest analysts from data provided by a London Youth Offending Team.

The analysts were given anonymised details about victims, witnesses and offenders involved in 18 serious incidents, including two murders and ten stabbings, and then mapped the connections, along with links to schools, colleges and young offender institutions.

Cleveland Police, the force which covers both town's, says it is already working with other agencies in an attempt to address the growing problem of youth crime.

A spokesperson said: "In Cleveland we know there are areas where there are children at risk of serious violence and we continue to do all that we can to try to prevent this.

"Together with partner agencies we identify and respond to risk and we continually look at how we do this and how we can improve upon it, in order to keep as many children as safe as we possibly can."