Snapchat booze crew invasion is just latest episode in battle to free town from plague of yobs

Police on an earlier patrol in Houghton
Police on an earlier patrol in Houghton
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The horde of 70 teenagers which descended for a night of drinking in a shopping street is just the latest in a string of incidents in the trouble-hit town.

The past few months have seen Houghton town centre plagued by antisocial behaviour - and police declaring war on those behind the problems.

The latest episode saw teenagers using social media app Snapchat to gather a 70-strong crowd intent on a mass drinking session - which was foiled by police before any alcohol was obtained.

But a string of unsavoury episodes over recent months includes:

:: Buses diverted from town centre routes after windows were bottled and bother on board services

:: Youths cycling down the middle of the road towards oncoming traffic

:: Bus stops vandalised

:: Eggs and stones thrown at vehicles

:: Shop shutters bashed and abuse hurled at passersby - with some even being spat at

:: Teenagers involved in incidents at the town's Lidl store

:: Fires started

After hearing the plight of residents, business owners and bus drivers in the area, police launched a fight back towards the end of 2017 intent on stamping out trouble and bringing back order to Houghton.

The police operation saw the Snapchat booze crew swiftly dealt before any drinking or trouble could begin last night.

But it's not the first strike by police in the Battle for Houghton, who have been carrying out patrols and operations in the town in response to the trouble.

A group of youths was kicked out of town at the beginning of December after a police crackdown saw nine issued with antisocial behaviour forms (AFBs) and another nine given dispersal orders, meaning they had to leave the town centre and couldn't return for 48 hours.

Two bikes were also seized from those suspected of being involved in bother.

By mid-December police said they had identified 80 youths believed to have been causing trouble in Houghton and spoken to them.

Officers gave the update as they chaired a Partners and Communities Together (PACT) meeting for residents to air their concerns, where it was also reported that an officer has been drafted into the local authority CCTV office so police can identify and react to any incidents.

Police have also been visiting schools to speak to young people as part of a drive to prevent trouble from happening in the first place.

The latest incident shows there is still work to be done to stamp out trouble in Houghton - but it also shows police are ready and able to swiftly deal with those involved and nip incidents in the bud.