A police initiative to help Midlothian youngsters keep active and occupied in the evening has kicked off in Dalkeith.
Around 15 young people were at Cowden Park on Friday to take part in the first football drop-in session, designed to curb antisocial behaviour among teenagers.
Community police officer Scott Robertson has been working with Dalkeith Thistle Community Football Club and Midlothian Council’s Aim High learning programme to provide a meaningful activity in the community.
Local residents have become concerned about trouble in the area at night, with much of the blame being directed at young people, often under the influence of alcohol.
He said: “The initiative was to bring local secondary school age kids together between 5-6pm on a Friday evening at Cowden Park and provide a football facility – just come and play – but also to offer hot chocolate, tea, drinks, hot snacks etc.
“The aim is to get them out of the current routine of stealing or sourcing alcohol and getting drunk every Friday. It is also an opportunity for the police to engage with youngsters in a more social setting.”
Club chairman Stephen Dixon said: “We at Dalkeith Thistle Community Football Club are aware of the importance of our close relationship with the people of Dalkeith and the surrounding area and we continually work to maintain and strengthen those links.
“We want to make a positive effort by working alongside various local groups to address the issue of lack of community facilities and spaces in Dalkeith.
“We wanted to give our young people access to a safe space and a quality sports facility and we have this at Cowden Pavilion.
“Besides helping youngsters to stay occupied and active, this also provides the perfect place for them to develop new skills and hone existing ones.”
Dalkeith Miners’ Club, which donated juice, tea, hot chocolate, crisps, Pot Noodles and sweets on Friday, has agreed to continue supporting the football venture.
Greggs in Dalkeith donated sausage rolls, pasties and cakes.
PS Robertson said: “We would encourage any youngsters from first year upwards to come along, boys and girls, whether to play football or just relax in the pavilion, listen to music and enjoy a hot chocolate.”
Sessions will continue every Friday until Christmas.