Deliberate fires cause destruction at Hartlepool's Summerhill Country Park during lockdown
Fires have destroyed parts of Hartlepool parkland – and sparked concern over youngsters gathering when they should be at home.
Police and council chiefs have called on parents to make sure they know where their children are after three deliberate fires at Summerhill Country Park on Saturday and Sunday, which damaged areas of natural habitat and some fencing on the site.
They occurred as lockdown restrictions remain in place, meaning no one should be outside except for work, medical appointments, exercise, buying basic essentials or caring for vulnerable loved ones.
Chief Inspector Peter Graham, head of the multi-agency Hartlepool Community Safety Team, said extra patrols would be carried out in the area, and he warned: “We really want to try to maintain the public’s support and ensure the need for any enforcement is a rarity.
“However, enforcement may ultimately be the only option available if people don’t follow the rules.”
Councillor Shane Moore, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said he was pleased that most people seemed to have stayed at home wherever possible and avoided non-essential travel over the weekend.
This followed a number of incidents the previous weekend, when significant numbers of people ventured outdoors and drove to places like Seaton Carew.
He said exercise should start and finish at home, and people should not drive anywhere to exercise.
“I’d like to thank people for being so responsible at the weekend but it is important that support for the Government’s rules is maintained,” said Coun Moore.
The council leader also looked ahead to Easter weekend, and urged people not to become complacent.
“We must ensure that we do not let our guard slip now. By all following the rules, we can protect ourselves and our families and play a key role in helping to protect the NHS and save lives,” he said.
His comments were echoed by Chief Inspector Graham, who added: “The majority of the public are adhering to the Government guidance and if that’s you - thank you.
“Socially isolating is very difficult but if we can all observe the Governments instruction then together we will save lives.”