Worried Fleetwood folks condemn antisocial behaviour as police cars targeted by 'point scoring' vandals

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Concerned citizens condemned the scourge of antisocial behaviour they say is plaguing Fleetwood following reports of up to 100 youths causing havoc outside the Marine Hall last week.

Councillors, police and MP Cat Smith attended the Marine Hall last night to discuss vandalism and intimidating behaviour with residents.

PC Scott McLaren said: "As you're all aware, last week there was a large antisocial behaviour incident involving a number of youths. There were about 100 youths involved. This week I have been reviewing CCTV and clearly there was a large number of youths on the grounds last week. What's apparent to me is that while there may have been 100 present, only a handful were taking part in antisocial behaviour."

The incident took place on the grounds of the Marine Hall on the evening of Tuesday, July 30.

Police said at the time that they were faced with up to 100 youths causing damage to the hall, forcing families to remain inside 'for fear for their own safety', and that a police car was damaged.

One boy was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

But while PC McLaren said the investigation would continue, he said that police were struggling to identify those involved due to them wearing face coverings.

He added: "Over the last few nights I'm aware there have been a few incidents of antisocial behaviour on Memorial Park. Every two weeks we have an antisocial behaviour meeting at the council and these events will be brought up at that meeting. We will be working to identify young people at risk of antisocial behaviour and putting in place things to counter that."

One concerned resident said that he believed people taking to social media websites such as Facebook to complain about nuisance youths was fuelling the problem.

He said: "We have all done daft things growing up, and back in the day it was seen as a way of getting your name in the news. Now as soon as you do something, it's all over social media, and for them it's encouraging it. It should be off social media altogether."

PC McLaren said there was an element of 'trophy hunting' among youths targeting police cars.

He said: "We need to look at not publicising that police cars are being smashed up because they are just scoring points with it."

People gave their own suggestions for how best to tackle antisocial behaviour in the area, including restorative justice, engagement with children in local schools, parenting classes, and an increase in non-sporting activities available for young people in Fleetwood.

Neil Greenwood, head of environmental health and community safety at Wyre Council, said: "The majority of the community want anti-social behaviour to be reduced, because they feel threatened or because they want to live in a nicer place. But what we have got to remember is that some members of the community are the perpetrators.

"I would like to point out that while antisocial behaviour is committed by both adults and youths, it's the youths who tend to get the most publicity, and it does seem to increase during the lighter nights and summer months. It's not just an issue for Fleetwood, It's happening all across the country.

"I generally feel that children nowadays are better behaved than how they were a long time ago. It's a minority of individuals doing this and we need to not tar all children with the same brush."

MP Cat Smith said: "This is a huge issue in Fleetwood and I've had people coming into the office and phoning up. I'm aware it's something felt very strongly across the town. Clearly it's a small number of young people and the majority of our kids in Fleetwood are good kids, and I'm scared that we are demonising them into one general block.

"It would be really good to have an offer for young people that's more than just sport. A lot of kids don't want to do dance, fitness or swimming, They just want to hang out with their mates. It's tough being a teenager and I think we need to have a conversation with young people and ask them what they want rather than offer them a long list of different ways of playing sport."