VANDALS could jeopardise plans to renovate one of Wearside’s best-known sites.
Police are stepping up patrols around Hylton Castle in a bid to stamp out antisocial behaviour in the grounds of the castle.
Plans to turn the monument into a community asset have been drawn up by landowners Sunderland City Council, castle guardians English Heritage and the Friends of Hylton Castle.
A £151,000 development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund helped kick-start the work, and a further bid for £2.2million towards the £3.5million cost is planned.
However, it is feared problems at the site could put the bid at risk.
Officers are carrying out regular patrols at Hylton Castle after increased reports of youth disorder and criminal damage, and are working with schools in the area to drive the message home.
Neighbourhood beat manager for the area Pc Helen Hulme, said: “We understand young people want somewhere to go and be with their friends, but we would urge them to go to organised events and proper venues.
“The castle is a listed building and an important icon to the community, who don’t want to see it being damaged or antisocial behaviour committed around it.
“It’s hoped the castle will receive a grant this year for restoration work, but there is a worry that if incidents continue, it may not be successful in receiving the cash for the works. We will continue to work with schools to educate those responsible on the consequences of their behaviour, as well as work with partner agencies to find longer-term solutions.
“People who are found to be causing a nuisance and vandalising the castle will face further police action, we’ll not only inform their parents or guardians of their behaviour, but if a crime has been committed, they could face being arrested, which could affect their future career prospects.”
City council deputy leader, Coun Harry Trueman, is chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership.
He said: “I would hope the whole community can come together in persuading anyone involved with this kind of behaviour to stop immediately, because they are putting so much at risk in their own and their community’s future.”