Police stepping up the fight to tackle troubles at play park

The play park in Alnwick.
The play park in Alnwick.

Police are taking action at an Alnwick play park which has been damaged by vandals and branded an anti-social behaviour hotspot.

The no-nonsense message follows a string of incidents at the facility at Swansfield Park Road and a series of complaints from worried residents.

Just last Friday, officers confiscated a lock knife from a 16-year-old boy near the entrance of the site and he was pulled in for questioning yesterday.

The week before, louts caused £500 of destruction after snapping the springs of a toy rocking horse, before making off.

In the last three months, police have received 11 calls relating to anti-social behaviour at the park – of which six have been attributed to youth disorder.

The situation has prompted some concerned readers to take to the Gazette Facebook page and call for CCTV to be installed at the site – something which Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle said could be an option.

On Monday, Alnwick Inspector Paul Truscott insisted police are getting tough against the trouble-makers and have already put measures in place to try to stamp out the problems.

In the space of seven days last month, officers issued two dispersal orders – telling louts to leave the area for up to 48 hours.

On top of this, eight youngsters have been given anti-social behaviour letters – warning them about their unruly conduct and what future action could be taken against them if they do not stop – during July.

Four of these were issued to local youths on Monday night, following a report of anti-social behaviour just outside the park.

Patrols have also been stepped up around the area and the Safer Northumberland Partnership will soon be carrying out a letter drop to gauge feedback from nearby residents.

Insp Truscott said: “We are keeping a very watchful eye on this and we are making sure that the kids in and around the park behave themselves

“It is a hotspot, but we are taking positive action and I believe the situation is manageable at the moment.”

However, he did warn that police could ‘ramp things up’’ if necessary and could apply for a Public Spaces Protection Order – which can prohibit and/or require specified things to be done in an area.

Insp Truscott will be attending the next meeting of Alnwick Town Council on Thursday, August 13 when the issue of the park is due to be discussed.

Coun Castle said: “I have asked for it to be placed on the agenda because something does need to be done. It is a shame we have a problem here because it is spoiling a useful facility.

“CCTV seems like the most cost-effective way forward. There is a power-point option that is being considered, but permission is needed.”

The play park is intended for use by children aged 12 years and younger and Coun Castle said the town council may look at putting up new signage to draw attention to its intended use.