A youth club which has celebrated its first anniversary is helping to break down boundaries between youngsters and police.

The Hangout, based in Maldon Road, Witham, launched in September last year in an bid to reduce the number of children aged between 11 and 17 in the town getting involved in crime or antisocial behaviour.

Dozens of youngsters have signed up to be a member of the club and they are able to take part in variety of indoor and outdoor activities in their spare time.

Throughout the last year, members have also had the chance to meet with Special Sargeant Simon Jesse on a number of occasions when he has popped in for a visit.

With the club now celebrating its first anniversary, Sgt Jesse has praised the work of the volunteers who run The Hangout and says it has given him the perfect chance to interact with many of the youngsters living in the town.

He said: “It’s really important to ensure that kids have access to police officers within their community on a regular basis, which is why I try and spend a lot of time there.

“I want to dispel the myth that we’re only there if they are in trouble, and that we’re just to be feared. I want to make sure that they know that they can run to officers if they ever need our help or guidance.

“We know that being a teenager can be a time that you’re really influenced by the people around you, so it’s really important to have a frank and honest conversation with them about the dangers of getting involved in crime.

“Even small acts of crime can spiral into a life of serious crime, like knife crime and other violent or organised crime, so I wanted to make sure that we’re talking to them about the dangers and consequences of getting involved with crime.”

With Sgt Jesse and special constable Liberty Keyse becoming familiar faces at The Hangout, the youth club has thanked the officers for their time and support.

A spokesman said: "Every time they pop by the children love to see them and it’s great to know they feel comfortable stopping by the centre when we have our sessions."