Personal trainer taking a stand against 'organised fights, drug use, and arson' at family park

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A police crackdown is under way after drug abuse, bare knuckle fighting and arson were all reported to have taken place at a town park.

Coronation Rec and Devonshire Recreation Grounds have been targeted by yobs who have been reportedly been seen taking drugs, fighting “until someone is knocked out”, and setting fire to artificial football pitches.

Stewart Boocock standing over burnt artificial pitch on Coronation Rec at the Devonshire Recreation Grounds

Stewart Boocock standing over burnt artificial pitch on Coronation Rec at the Devonshire Recreation Grounds

It comes less than a year after Chorley Council announced a £400,000 investment for the park off Devonshire Road.

Council's plan to bring state-of-the-art cafe to renovated Chorley park

Stewart Boocock, a personal trainer who uses the park, has had enough with the situation after witnessing drug taking, fights, and arson.

“It’s been a regular thing for the last few months but especially the last few weeks with them being off school,” said Stewart, who runs exercise company FitnessOutdoors.

Coronation Rec

Coronation Rec

“We do fitness sessions on the park where they all are.

“I’ve seen burnt patches on astro turf and grass where there has been arson.

“The violence is on another level. It’s organised and is not stopping until someone is knocked out.

“The council have spent so much money on it too but it’s become a place where families aren’t going anymore.

Stewart Boocock at Coronation Rec

Stewart Boocock at Coronation Rec

“Obviously I have my business but I also have three children and I wont go there because of this and it isn’t getting any better.”

Chorley's Coronation Recreation Ground to open with fitness zone and multi-use games arena by the end of the year

Lancashire Police has now said it will increase patrols in the area and Chorley Council has said it is bringing in CCTV as promised.

Taking to social media, PCSO Lewis Deary, from Chorley Police, said: “We are aware of the issues surrounding persistent anti-social behaviour and the area will become a frequent patrol route for our Neighbourhood Policing Team who have identified it with support from the public and Chorley Council that it is a frequent hot spot for anti-social behaviour.

"Work is being done with Chorley Council to tackle this issue head on and is being taken seriously.

“Anti-social behaviour that spoils the area for families and others will not be tolerated and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.”

Stewart, 35, said: “I’m not throwing the police under the bus but when responding to calls nothing is done when they get there.

“The kids stay and chat to the coppers. There is no deterrent in their minds. It is like they are having a life about it.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “We’ve put a lot of investment into Coronation Recreation Ground and it is really frustrating to see a small minority of people spoiling it for others.

“We are working closely with the police to tackle any anti social behaviour on the site and we will be installing CCTV cameras very shortly, which should hopefully help solve the problem.

“The work to get an electrical connection should be completed this week and once that is done the cameras will then be installed.

“I would urge anyone who sees anti social behaviour taking place to report it to the police and I’d ask those who have been responsible for the behaviour to respect the rec so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

“It’s a great place for families to enjoy their time together and we will work with the police to nip this problem in the bud so people can rest assured it is a safe place to play.”

On the CCTV plans, Stewart said: “It’s good and I welcome it but it was promised when the park was built, so this could have been prevented earlier.”

In a video watched more than 30,000 times, Stewart said there seems to be the “same group of kids” of 15 to 20 “who are causing a lot of hassle”.

He said: “It’s becoming a little bit dangerous with them...it’s just not right.

"We all expect kids at that age to do daft things...but we knew right from wrong.”