'There is no-one in control of these children' - Councillor hits out at Houghton parents during police walkabout

A Houghton Councillor has hit out at parents who let their kids run riot warning that 'there is no-one in control of these children'

Ward Coun Alex Scullion made the remarks as police and partners went on a walkabout in Houghton town centre after recent and numerous reports of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre.

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre.

Officers joined councillors, council officers and bus company representatives as they hit the streets after school finishing time on Tuesday.

The move comes after about three weeks of misery was caused by youngsters, with many residents reporting growing problems with anti-social behaviour involving youths

Last week, the situation got so bad that bus provider Go North East said it had to divert buses away from a usual route which goes through Houghton town centre.

Now, officers say they are working with schools to warn parents of their children’s behaviour, in an attempt to nip the problem in the bud.

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre.  Supt Steve Heatley talks with councillors Alex Scullion and Juliana Heron.

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre. Supt Steve Heatley talks with councillors Alex Scullion and Juliana Heron.

They are warning that more heavy-handed tactics may become necessary should this not resolve the problem.

Houghton Coun Juliana Heron joined the event on Tuesday night.

She said: "We've had a lot of youth disorder on the Broadway and it's gone on over a number of weeks and it's been a major topic of conversation on social media.

"we really wanted to get a chief inspector out to see what's going on in the area, to see that as a council and councillors we understand what's going on."

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre.  Chief Insp Mark Hall.

Police walkabout in Houghton-le-Spring town centre. Chief Insp Mark Hall.

Fellow ward Coun Alex Scullion said: "I live just off the Broadway and I think there is some problem concerning lack of policing and I think this is probably a useful opportunity just to show that police are about.

"Although I personally think that they are a little bit thin on the ground and I suspect that is down to the budget cuts we have suffered and we are here to support them not criticise them.

"We want to support them in whatever they can do to get more funding to help them.

"I've experienced problems that a lot of local people have had on the Broadway.

"I have had gravel thrown at the front of my car by youths on a bike twice.

"Apart from that it's just the noise and disorder that goes on.

"It tends to be around the buses and they are 11 to 12-year-olds, that's the difficult thing about it.

"They are young people, some of whom are in the thrall of older ones and that's not helping either, but generally it's just bad behaviour in some cases

"They have been seen to attack some of the shops and some of the pubs.

"I think everything came to a head a little bit over the last few days.

"I also think the public can help.

"Those that have been writing on Facebook and making comments, some of the comments are useful but some of them are a little bit hysterical and not really factual.

"I do think parents have to realise they have a massive role to play, because it just appears that they either don't know or don't care where their young people are.

"I think that's probably the root of it - there is no one in control of these children."

Chief Inspector Mark Hall said: "What we have been doing is a multi-agency walkabout with partners from the bus companies and councillors from the local authority, having a look at the issues we've been experiencing in Houghton town centre.

"We've had a lot of youths gathering, being quite rowdy, getting in front of buses, riding pedal cycles on the pavements and in front of cars and buses and generally causing a nuisance and anti-social behaviour.

"This issue started about three or four weeks ago.

"It appeared low-level at first with youths congregating in the town centre and it's escalated somewhat.

"On Thursday we arrested a 15-year-old youth for a public order offence, who will be receiving street triage.

"We also have 25 names of youths, which the community have come forward and passed to us as having been involved in this anti-social behaviour, which will be dealt with as part of Operation Griffin, whereby we will be going out with our partners to the parents to advice them to deter from this behaviour.

"We need to get the parents to look at the issue and will be working with the local schools to identify these youths to educate them that what may appear to be low-level congregating at bus stops and being a bit rowdy, how that can be perceived, particularly by older and vulnerable members of the community.

"we will try to deter them but should these people continue we will not hesitate to take enforcement action."