POLICE and council officials have joined forces to clampdown on trespass and vandalism at an all-weather sports pitch.
The initiative has been launched to prevent youths gaining unauthorised access to the Hartlepool Borough Council-run pitch at Grayfields recreation ground, off the town’s Chester Road.
This follows a number of incidents of damage to the high metal fence surrounding the pitch as youths have forced entry, while several young people have suffered ankle injuries climbing over it.
Council employees on-site have also been subjected to verbal abuse when they have challenged the trespassers.
Now the youths responsible have been warned they could be arrested unless they change their behaviour.
Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, said: “We have increased the police presence in this area to prevent any further damage while also delivering the clear message to local youths that trespassing will not be tolerated.
“There is a secure perimeter fence surrounding the facility with clear signage instructing people to stay out. People who choose to ignore this may be arrested.”
He also called on parents to be aware of their children’s whereabouts, adding: “I would urge them to educate their children about the dangers of climbing the perimeter fence as several young people have already been hurt and others could suffer more serious injury.”
Maxine Crutwell, from the council’s sport and recreation service, said: “We have experienced persistent problems with trespass and vandalism over the last six months, with incidents most commonly occurring between 4pm and 6pm.
“We have now decided that enough is enough and we are no longer prepared to tolerate this situation.
“We have put up signs warning youths against trespassing, and we are grateful for the extra resources provided by Hartlepool Police which we hope will act as a deterrent.”
Anyone with information about incidents of trespass or vandalism involving the sports pitch is asked to contact Hartlepool Police on (01642) 326326.