YOUTHS have been banned from a city centre car park after a blaze ripped through a large sections of the building.
Mounting concerns over youths gathering at nights in the Civic Centre multi-storey has prompted police to introduce orders banning them from entering the area.
At the end of October, 20 firefighters tackled a blaze which spread through the basement of the car park. It is believed the fire started in a rubbish compound of the four-storey building, igniting 40 plastic bins.
A structural engineer was needed to assess damage to the roof of the basement and pipework.
Police launched Operation Kaiser to identify the large groups of youths who had been seen meeting in the car park and causing trouble.
Patrols were then stepped up in the area and CCTV used to identify those responsible for causing the problems.
Using Direction to Leave notices, the troublemakers are now prevented from going into the area for up to 48 hours.
If they return, they face being arrested.
Sergeant Ged Fairclough, of Northumbria Police, said: “We’ve had recent reports of youths gathering in the car park causing anti-social behaviour and disorder, which is why Operation Kaiser was set up.
“I would like to reassure communities that we do see this as one of our main priorities as we know the effects anti-social behaviour has on people’s quality of life and fear of crime.
“People can be assured that we’re committed to working together to continue to drive down anti-social behaviour and the minority of people who do let themselves and their communities down will be subject to close attention.”
Geoff Kelly, 43, a city centre office worker, said: “You wouldn’t want to be parking your car in there if this type of thing is happening.
“Kids will find anywhere they can to meet and drink, and a car park like this one is ideal. Hopefully this might solve the problem.”
Councillor Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Operation Kaiser is the result of hard work and planning to find out what was causing these problems, and then putting the measures in place to do something about them.
“This includes identifying those people involved in disorder, and then working with individuals and their families to make them aware of the negative impact this type of behaviour has on their and other people’s lives.”