Meet the Old Skool’s far from juvenile nuisances who mark Lancashire Police’s latest innovative method of highlighting an issue that besets most communities.
The seven-strong senior squad (pictured, right) feature in a YouTube video campaign to turn anti-social behaviour stereotypes on their head, and pose the question – how would you feel if roles were reversed?
Would teenagers feel intimidated if they spotted this lot slugging wine on a park bench, kicking a football around on the streets, or using walking sticks to scythe down flowers?
It’s all about putting the pensioner into PCSO – Pensioner Community Support Officer.
The video, dubbed Old Skool Massive, shows seven pensioners from Lancashire running amok in a neighbourhood, to highlight the all too real issues involved.
Aimed at teenagers, the mock two-minute clip comes as part of a campaign to tackle anti- social behaviour – along with postcards and posters distributed across Blackpool and the Fylde, with the message ‘anti-social behaviour isn’t funny’.
Chief Supt Stuart Williams, of the Safer Lancashire Partnership, says: “This campaign is designed to be creative and thought-provoking while getting a serious message across that actions have consequences.”
Will it work? Blackpool day tripper Harold Jenkinson, 75 says he’s unlikely to watch the video (“I can just about handle shopping online”). But adds: “I think people are more likely to have a laugh and not take it seriously.
“I also wonder whether all the trouble is down to teenagers. I don’t think it is. In my day it was Teddy Boys, not hoodies, and most of the time we just showed off because it was a smart look and the girls liked it.
“We’d have a rumpus once in a while and people would cross the road to avoid us.”
Doreen Thompson, 81, of South Shore, also thinks kids today get a bad press. I like the idea of the campaign. We all forget we were young once. I played out all the time. We lived facing an end terrace and I’d spent hours bouncing a ball against the wall there, it drove the old lady who lived in the house mad, and she kept complaining, but my mother said she was an old spoilsport, so we could carry on.
“Now I’m in a downstairs flat and have kids running around all the time outside. They do a lot of damage, and it’s not accidental.”
The police initiative has been welcomed in Blackpool. Kath Jacobs, 59, of Bispham, a care worker, points out: “People are living longer than ever before so kids today should have older people in their lives – but sadly it doesn’t mean they necessarily respect them more.
“I’d be concentrating more on inter-generational stuff, not videos showing pensioners acting like teenagers.
“Look at how many grandparents look after their children’s children today. Those should be positive role models. Build on them rather than go for some gimmick.”
At Claremont community centre, North Shore, carer Katie Wyer, 18, who attends a carer group there, agrees: “I don’t think watching pensioners drinking alcohol on park benches is going to make teenagers think, oh, I shouldn’t do that. If anything it might make them fancy a drink. They will just think it’s funny. I also don’t think it’s teenagers causing the trouble all the time.”
At Stanley Park, Connor Machin, 15, who attends Park School, also thinks the video is more likely to “make teenagers laugh” than consider it applies to them. His mother Vanessa thinks it’s a “good idea – but only if teenagers get the underlying message.”
Blackpool Council worker Carl Cornwell, visiting Grange Park as a home visitor, says: “It’s a good idea to use humour, but I wonder whether some may miss the point.”
But surprising support came from the youngest people quizzed. Six-year-old Ebony May Buckley and her eight-year-old brother Luke have already watched the video on YouTube – to the surprise of mum Sarah – and both like it.”
Ebony adds: “The video’s funny but it makes you think you shouldn’t be like that yourself.”
The surnames of the pensioners who star in the video have been withheld, but Dorothy, 71, who plays Minnie the Minx in it, explains: “I’ve had people damage my property with footballs in the past. I want people young and old alike to enjoy themselves but to be mindful of the impact anti-social behaviour can have on others.”
And Vincent, 67, who plays Dennis the Menace, concludes: “A lot may find it comedy, but if gets a serious message across to young people it will be worthwhile.”
n The video can be viewed at www.youtube.com/oldskoolmassive7