Community safety chiefs in appeal to parentsPublished Monday, 13th July 2020
Parents are being urged to ensure they know where their children are following a spate of deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour at parks and open spaces in Hartlepool.
The appeal has been issued by the multi-agency Hartlepool Community Safety Team which comprises staff from Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council and Cleveland Fire Brigade.
Recent incidents include:
- Young people drinking, setting fires and shooting at electricity power cables with an air rifle while camping out at Summerhill Country Park.
- A number of suspected “school leaver” parties at the 100-acre site, with one resulting in rubbish - including canisters of nitrous oxide - that filled seven bin bags.
- Vandalism to a hand sanitiser gel dispenser and a fire in a hand basin at public toilets in Rossmere Park – just hours after they re-opened as part of the easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
- Damage to a hand sanitiser gel dispenser at public toilets in Ward Jackson Park which had also just re-opened.
- Damage to newly-erected tennis court nets at Seaton Park by young people who keep sitting on them.
Chief Inspector Peter Graham from the Hartlepool Community Safety Team said: “We want to send out a clear message that we are not prepared to tolerate this situation.
“Young people found to be causing problems will be spoken to initially and warned about their behaviour. However, if their behaviour does not improve then formal enforcement action will follow, including the use of Acceptable Behaviour Agreements – the terms of which can exclude a young person from a particular area of the town – and, ultimately, prosecution.
“We would ask parents to support us by making sure they know where their children are and what they are doing.”
Anyone with information about deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour can call Cleveland Police on 101 or email email@example.com They can also report issues anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Cleveland Fire Brigade statistics show that they responded to 40 small fires between June 1st and 28th, and 36 of them were started deliberately.
Darren Lane, the brigade’s Community Liaison Officer, said, “Deliberate fires cost Hartlepool communities over £2.9 million in 2018/19. Hartlepool has lots of beautiful outdoor spaces for everyone and we want to keep it that way.
“Fire-related anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated – this includes setting deliberate fires and violence to our staff. Make sure this summer you know where your youngsters are and they have plenty to keep them occupied.
“It is widely recognised that signs of fire-setting at an early age can lead to more serious crime in later in life. Contact our Fire Education Team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think your child has an issue.”