An imaginative Midland youth club scheme being spearheaded by the region's top architects and most disengaged children is set to be rolled out across the country.
The Youth Space scheme is already starting to reduce crime only weeks after being launched in three Midland pilot neighbourhoods – Stechford, in Birmingham; Warndon, in Worcestershire, and Coleshill, in Warwickshire.
It involves local youths designing youth centres with the help of Midlands Architecture and the Designed Environment (MADE), a body which promotes best practice in design.
Youth workers, local police officers and community safety officers are also involved in dialogue with the youngsters, who have been identified as being at risk of becoming involved with anti-social behaviour.
The scheme helps to steer youths away from crime by focusing their attentions on creating a new centre which can also be used by the wider community.
It also helps to instil in youngsters a positive attitude towards the police, while giving them a sense of ownership of their youth shelter since they designed it.
The Government Office for the West Midlands-backed scheme will see three further projects being set up in Hunderton, Hereford; Romsley, Bromsgrove, and Penn Island, Wolverhampton.
If they prove successful, Youth Space could be rolled out across the country.
MADE director Julia Ellis said: "The involvement of people in designing and making their buildings and neighbourhoods can produce safer, better-designed places. The Youth Space Project has set a benchmark for future community design projects and given a voice to young people often excluded by their communities."
Peter Reynolds, a youth manager at the Government Office, said the well-designed Youth Spaces are already becoming focal points for all the community.
He said: "By involving youths in the planning stages of a project they feel valued and listened to and will go out of their way to value their own environment as a result.
"These Youth Spaces are not only a much wanted and contemporary meeting place in the early evenings, but a daytime resource for the community as well.
"Already lunchtime workers see them as a welcome haven."