News Shopper highlights heroes as well as yobs

A weekly whose “Shop a Yob” campaign led to hundreds of prosecutions has launched a scheme to highlight the good deeds of young people, writes Dominic Ponsford.

News Shopper launched Shop a Yob three years ago to reduce vandalism and assaults on public transport in its circulation area of north Kent and southeast London. By publishing CCTV images supplied by bus companies and urging readers to identify offenders, the paper claimed it cut incidents on some buses by up to 80 per cent.

Editor Andrew Parkes explained why he decided to launch Local Hero: “While we are extremely proud of Shop a Yob, News Shopper is also aware that we have a duty to be fair in reporting the other side – that not all young people are yobs, thugs and tearaways.

“We wanted to highlight those doing good things in the community.”

Parkes said the inspiration for Local Hero came from a reader who told him of two eight-year-olds who were so fed up with the litter in their local park that they cleaned it up themselves.

Readers are asked to nominate juvenile do-gooders to compete for a monthly prize.

The competition is sponsored by Broomleigh Housing Association, which has provided laptops and digital cameras as prizes.

Shop a Yob was seen as controversial when it was launched because the paper published CCTV pictures provided directly by bus companies without going via the police.

However, it proved effective and soon after the campaign started Bromley Police arrested 30 suspects in a single round-up.

The free weekly was praised by Home Secretary David Blunkett, who said: “I fully support the News Shopper campaign. It is extremely encouraging that the campaign has succeeded in mobilising people to take action against yobbish and anti-social behaviour.”

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