Free runners blame drunks for damage to Durham’s historic buildings

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FREE runners have defended their sport after police voiced fears the activity is causing damage to fragile and ancient parts of their city beat.

Officers in Durham have also issued a warning the activity could also have life-threatening consequences if jumps go wrong, after reports of people climbing structures, including the cathedral.

Durham Parkour, which was set up by Gareth Randle around a year ago, now has around a dozen members, operating under strict rules which means they keep clear of the church and its grounds.

New members are shown the basics in a gym and told how to stay safe once outside.

Gareth, 20, from Durham, who is in his final year of a degree in corporate management at Northumbria University, believes the damage has been caused by drunks.

He said: “We have great respect for anyone’s property and don’t damage anything.

“The idea is we do it as quietly as we can and as safely and it’s very much a discipline and a life-long discipline.

“I’m sure it’s drunk people and it’s giving us a bad reputation, because this isn’t us.

“I would definitely like to meet with the police and happy to go and see them and explain what we do.

“It’s very important for us to do this legally.”

He added he would like to teach police officers about the sport and some moves, as it may help in their own work and fitness.

Spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said: “Police are concerned these activities are being done on monuments, ancient walls and buildings in the world heritage site of Durham City, which could be structurally unsound due to their age.

“Please think you are not only causing damage to the buildings but the risk to yourself whilst taking part in these activities is extremely dangerous.”