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Tough stance urged on 'the Misfits'.

A government minister has urged police and local councillors to clamp down on teenagers known as the Misfits who, she was told, have been making the lives of residents in her constituency a misery.

Hilary Armstrong, Minister for Social Exclusion and MP for North-West Durham, joined a panel of police and councillors at a weekend public meeting attended by 70 of her constituents to discuss the menace of rowdy youths in Tow Law.

They call themselves the Misfits after a gang of hooligans of the same name who earned national notoriety a few years ago by causing mayhem when following the town's football team.

Although a crackdown was promised last May, residents say they are still being plagued by teenagers who shout abuse, throw stones and make threats.

Ms Armstrong said: "The Government has given police and councils the powers to deal with these situations, and I am pushing them to use them.

"I want to see more parenting orders, more acceptable behaviour contracts, for example.

"Young people have to grow up with the right values and learn that if you give respect, you get respect.

"We have to set boundaries. If people can't understand the difference between right and wrong, they have to face the consequences."

Local resident John Parkin, who lives next to an empty bank which has become a trouble hotspot, said: "Tow Law is a good community, but my wife and my daughter are frightened to walk down the street at night.

"We have asked before to have things done but nothing has changed."

A youth club meeting in the community centre was recently cancelled because of troublemakers.

But local community police inspector George Ledger said police were targeting known troublemakers. He added: "The number of complaints has gone down.

"Tow Law now has its own beat officer and police community support officer, who are working with young people and the rest of the community.

"We have visited all the licensed premises and follow up every single complaint about under-age drinking. We have also run covert operations on over-18s who are buying drink for the younger ones."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2007
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