Cricket 'a safe haven' from crime
Playing cricket can keep young people away from crime and joining gangs, research suggests.
It argues that being part of a team or club reduces the opportunity for youngsters to take part in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, and gives them the chance to meet new people they would not normally spend time with.
The study, by the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) looked at the impact of the "StreetChance" programme, which is run by the Cricket Foundation and Barclays.
The scheme runs weekly cricket sessions for young people in some of the most deprived areas of the country, which often include informal classes on topics such as gangs, knife crime and drug abuse.
Although most of the young people who take part have positive social attitudes, there is a "small but significant group who are at risk of committing crime and anti-social behaviour", the report says.
Around 10% to 20% admitted that they are quite similar to their peers who are involved in gangs, saying they are "just like me" or "quite like me".
The study concludes that by offering other activities, the cricket scheme cuts the likelihood that these young people will commit offences because their involvement in the initiative reduces their opportunities to offend or behave badly.
It adds that the scheme exposes this high-risk group to new people outside their normal networks who can influence them to act in more positive ways.
The study goes on to say: "StreetChance can provide a safe haven for the majority of children and young people who hold generally pro-social attitudes, thereby reducing the risk that any of them will get involved in crime and anti-social behaviour over time."
StreetChance operations manager, Richard Joyce said: "StreetChance is providing safe havens for good kids in tough areas. It's also having a positive impact on a small but significant group of young people at risk of getting involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. It diverts them away from negative influences and introduces them to positive role models and supportive peers."