Retailers in Chorley town centre are calling for more police presence to tackle the escalating rates of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
According to local traders, gangs of teenagers have been disturbing the town centre for the last six months by climbing on market stalls and shop roofs, however their behaviour has become increasingly aggressive over the last two weeks.
John Brennan, who owns 10 market stalls and a shop in Chorley town centre said: “They were down this morning, throwing stuff around, threatening people. Last week, they spat in my son’s face, and one of them threatened to have a fight with the security guard on the precinct!
“They have been an utter terror, they’re about 13 years old, and they know very well we can’t do anything about it.
“This anti-social behaviour has got to stop, because it’s putting customers off coming down. It’s just awful, it’s really got out of hand. It has to stop before something seriously bad happens.”
Chorley Police were called to the spitting incident last week and say market traders must continue reporting any other incidents to them.
The police have been aware of anti-social behaviour for months, with emergency services even attending a fire on top of Lindsey Hoyle’s offices back in April, thought to be caused by young roof hoppers.
Malcolm Allen, owner of Malcolm's Musicland in Chorley, and chair of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, which represents about 75 businesses, said: “It’s been an ongoing problem for the last 6 months. Our town centre ambassadors try and do the best they can but they’re limited to what they can do.
“As traders in the town centre we don’t think the police are doing enough. We want a police presence in the town to deal with them, preferably to take them home and speak to the parents because they need to be held responsible for the actions of these young lads and girls.”
Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “We are concerned by instances of anti-social behaviour and vandalism in our town centre and are actively working with police to tackle the issue.
“Chorley prides itself as a friendly and welcoming community and there is absolutely no place for this sort of behaviour in our town.
“We ask anybody who is the victim of a crime to please report the incident directly to the police by calling 101, so that all incidents can be logged and investigated appropriately.
“As a council, we have recently upgraded our Business Watch radio link system to enable better communication between local businesses, for the purpose of intelligence gathering and monitoring known troublemakers.
“Our Town Centre Ambassadors and CCTV monitoring teams also offer a support service for local businesses and gather intelligence to assist the police with any enquiries.
“Together with the police, we will continue to explore additional ways in which we can keep our town centre free of anti-social behaviour.
“We will also continue our work with the fantastic Inspire Youth Zone to engage the young people of our borough in a wide range of positive and fulfilling activities.”
Lancashire Police have been approached for comment.