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Police peg their safety hopes on POGs

POGs - the game banned in many school playgrounds by headteachers - is being used to spread safety messages in Northamptonshire this summer.

Police have tapped into its addictive quality in an attempt to reduce accidents in the holidays.

Invented 70 years ago in Hawaii by a dairy to publicise its Passion-fruit, Orange and Guava juice, POGs has been described as a 1990s version of tiddlywinks.

It entails stacking up a pile of brightly-coloured cardboard discs and striking them with a slammer called a kini. Any which fall face-down go to the player for keeps.

The success of the game has taken scores of schools by surprise and led to many a fierce battle in playgrounds, while POGs has gone on to become a top-seller in the US and Britain.

Police in Northamptonshire are handing out 12,000 counters bearing a safety slogan alerting youngsters to the dangers of traffic, strangers and water.

Andrew Timpson, assistant chief constable, said: "Everyone knows that POGs are popular, and this a simple but effective way of getting safety messages across to children.

"If one child is saved from being hurt during the summer, then the scheme will have been well worth while."

The POGs have emerged from a Pounds 5,000 sponsorship deal between the police and the R Griggs Group, makers of Dr Martens footwear. Andrew Borge, group corporate affairs manager, said: "We recognise just how vulnerable young children are, and are delighted to be involved in an initiative which will help get a serious safety message across, but in a fun way."

The 12 designs contain a safety message on one side and the smiling face of PC POG on the other.

And said Mr Timpson: "We are confident that the advent of PC POG will encourage children to speak to our school liaison officers and community officers, and make it easier for them to relate to the police in general. "

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