YOUNGSTERS are risking serious injury by using the edge of an eroding golf course as a 40ft slide.
Police say children as young as four have been recklessly hurling themselves down the side of Hartlepool Golf Course on skateboards and on to the beach.
The Hart Warren course is gradually dropping off towards the sea as the land erodes away. But that is not stopping the youngsters using it as a play park.
Officers are particularly concerned that more children will be attracted to the site when the summer holidays arrive.
They are urging parents to make sure they know where their children are playing safely.
The club’s manager, Graham Laidlaw, has also warned that a rescue operation had to be launched when a jumping child got stuck and the youngsters climbing and falling could shrink the course over time.
PC Joe Crane, of Hartlepool Police, said: “I am really concerned about the youngsters who have been seen in this area of the golf course. It is extremely dangerous due to the course falling away onto the beach below.”
Mr Laidlaw said the land does not actually belong to the golf club as it is slightly outside their grounds, but they have put up fencing and signs to keep their members and visitors safe.
And he pointed to the serious incident two years ago as a warning of what can happen when things go wrong.
He said: “A child jumped off the top of the dune and got stuck. Police, ambulance, mountain rescue and the air ambulance were there getting him out. God knows how much it cost. Fortunately the tide was out then and they saved him.
“It shows how dangerous it is though and it needs to stop before something worse happens.
“It is down to the parents to stop them, but sometimes you see them on the beach below watching. It’s madness.”
The club is also in the process of applying for funding to protect the course from erosion and Mr Laidlaw said it is a big concern for staff and members.
He added: “These kids are climbing up the side of the dune from the beach and jumping off. That’s not only dangerous, but it is damaging the land.
“There are people here who rely on this course for work and for recreation and if we lose some holes then it will cost people dearly. We have to do all we can to protect what we have.”