Police boss questions claims of ‘teen yobs’ at Demesnes, Barnard Castle
A TEESDALE police inspector has been candid in his assessment of anti-social behaviour at a popular beauty spot.
Persistent complaints about youngsters in cars on the Demesnes, in Barnard Castle, have led to calls for action from councillors and residents.
But Insp Kevin Tuck questioned whether the perception of young people was muddying the waters at a Teesdale Action Partnership meeting last week.
“It’s about what is anti-social behaviour,” he said.
“Is it real or is it perceived? Because sometimes we have people who want to walk their dogs but as soon as young people park up that’s a trigger for a change in perception.”
Insp Tuck said it wasn’t against the law for young people to have a barbecue or to play music on the Demesnes.
He added: “I can see why some people may feel uncomfortable but 99 per cent of the time young people are not doing anything wrong.
“If people are concerned about the Demesnes at night, there has to be action from residents – we cannot be there just in case someone has a piece of cannabis or has dropped some litter.”
Since July 13, Insp Tuck revealed there had been 37 patrols on the Demesnes and five car registration numbers had been reported in by residents.
He said specific problems had been reduced through some “very sincere conversations” with motorists but he didn’t think it was the end of the matter.
“Will it come back? – probably, but the people who control the Demesnes have got to think about whether vehicles are allowed or not. We cannot have selectiveness if you are old or young.”
Elsewhere in the dale, reports of anti social behaviour on Shirley Terrace in Evenwood had “dropped significantly” and gatherings of youths outside Etherley Lodge had reduced in number.
Late night gatherings at the back of Dawson Road play area in Barnard Castle were also reported to have been stifled.
When it came to speeding motorists in the dale, Insp Tuck said the practicalities of policing the problem with limited resources once again proved an obstacle.
He said: “At any given time we carry dozens of different speeding complaints – it’s the sort of thing that gets people emotive. It’s very difficult and near impossible for us to police it on our own in any given locality.”
Insp Tuck explained how complaints filtered through the county council highways team to the police – giving the example of concerns on the A67 near Startforth Park.
He added: “Someone normally says ‘have we got to wait for an accident before something gets done’ – unfortunately they (the highways team) will look at accident statistics when it comes to putting in engineering work.
“So with a small pot of money we can go into an area and have an effect on speeding for a short period of time – but we cannot be there forever.”
Getting people involved in the Community Speed Watch programme remained a key aim for Insp Tuck.
“It’s very effective as we want drivers to change their behaviour,” he added.
In the 40mph zone near Startforth Park, eight motorists out of 617 were sent warning letters following police monitoring.