A YOUTH disco launched by police officers has resulted in a dramatic drop in anti-social behaviour.

Officers in Peterlee came up with the idea for Club Envy, based at Peterlee Leisure Centre, in response to escalating problems caused by local youngsters.

On Friday nights in particular, large groups of children were hanging around the streets, drinking, dropping litter, shouting and intimidating people.

When police officers moved them on, they congregated in the Dene, with crowds of up to 200 youngsters at a time.

Officers became concerned for their safety following reports of drug and alcohol abuse, and violent crimes.

When they asked the young people what they would rather be doing, the majority asked for a disco, so officers set about organising one for 11 to 17-year-olds.

Acting Sergeant Siobhan Jones said: "We talked to young people on the streets and we also did research at local schools.

"We worked towards this project in tandem with Easington District Council, Investing in Children, and a steering group of youngsters.

"The young people knew what they wanted, but we knew we needed them to have a safe night, so we went to other places where they were running similar nights and found a template of best practice."

Peterlee officer Detective Constable Phil Reed was signed up as a DJ, and the nights were launched in October.

Acting Sgt Jones said: "They run once a fortnight on a Friday and there are over 230 people there and the venue only holds 250.

"The feedback is just fantastic. DC Reed is a very capable mixer, and he asks the youngsters what they want and changes his playlist."

Acting Sgt Jones said the young people themselves now took the lead in running, regulating and promoting the discos.

She said: "There has been a 30 per cent drop in anti-social behaviour in Peterlee on Friday nights that the disco has run.

"We see a lot less of the kids, which is good for us and residents."