THIS week young people from across Bradford are enjoying activities from cricket to archery and street dance.

They are learning useful life skills - self-defence, basic first aid and team-building - and at the end of the week they will leave with smiles on their faces and increased confidence.

Around 600 youngsters, aged between nine and 15, are taking part in West Yorkshire Police Summer Camp, an annual event which combines sport and other fun activities with education workshops.

Now in its sixth year, the camp - which runs this week and next at Bradford College's Trinity Green Campus - gives young people the chance to meet firearms officers, police dog section officers and fire officers from West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service.

It also teaches them about anti-social behaviour in an interactive way and offers the opportunity to visit West Yorkshire Police headquarters at Carrgate in Wakefield, where officers are trained.

It is led by Nosheen Qamar of Bradford College and PC Chris Cahill, of Bradford Police, alongside a management team from various organisations. In addition, 60 staff from organisations across Bradford and student and police volunteers help to give the youngsters a week to remember.

“The young people love it,” the college lecturer said.

“They get to experience a range of activities they otherwise may not have the opportunity to take part in.

"A lot of youngsters come on their own and might have Monday morning nerves, but they soon lose them. They become comfortable with their surroundings and get to know people - by the end of the week they are different children. They are eager and motivated, wanting to take part in activities."

These include team-building, leadership tasks and communication skills.

"We engage them in common problem solving and command tasks. There are a whole host of activities - some are just for fun, some for education," she added.

The camp has a positive impact upon anti-social behaviour in the district. In August last year call handling by the police was reduced by 42 per cent compared with the previous year.

“Partner agencies who refer youngsters to us also report changes in behaviour of their youngsters,” she said.

It also gives them the chance to learn first aid with Yorkshire Ambulance Service. Last year a teenager learned how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre during a first aid session and went on to save the life of his choking mother the very next day.

The cost for the week is £10, subsidised by various partners, but mainly the Police and Crime Commissioner's Community Safety Fund and and West Yorkshire Police investing money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Marshall Smith, 12, of Bierley, has attended five times.

"I enjoy it every time," he said. "We work as a team and I make new friends. This week I have played basketball and taken part in role-play about anti-social behaviour."

Cameron Smith, 15, of Eccleshill, was referred by Prism Youth Project, a specialist organisation working with youngsters with disabilities.

"I've played basketball and cricket. It is good experience and fun," he said.

The camp also offers benefits to volunteer staff.

"The camp has a positive effect on all involved, " said Nosheen. "Not only has it reduced anti-social behaviour, it has allowed youngsters aged over 16 to gain valuable work experience and to develop their employability skills."

Nosheen praises the many partner agencies, including Incommunities and Places for People.

"Without them, we would not be able to do what we do for the young people of Bradford. We have the army and education team helping too." she added.

"The relationships that the police build with the children breaks down barriers.

The youngsters learn about the impact of anti-social behaviour such as arson, hoax calls and environmental issues. "We look at the consequences, and look at it from the victim's viewpoint."

PC Cahill added: "The Police Summer Camp allows police and partners to engage with young people from Bradford district and deliver our messages in a fun and innovative way. It means we can work with them to make sure they are safe and able to make informed decisions.

"Our aim is to educate youngsters on the consequences of anti-social behaviour and the importance of personal safety, so they can ultimately become confident young adults who will make a positive contribution to society.

"It is important to give young people something to do in the school holidays and this multi-agency setting allows us to build links with communities, while promoting trust and confidence in neighbourhood policing."