Vandals trash pavilion at Happy Mount Park in Morecambe and film it for social media
Vandals as young as 11 filmed themselves trashing a pavilion at Happy Mount Park in Morecambe and shared the video on social media.
Police who have seen the video on Facebook said the group of 11 to 13-year-olds could be seen repeatedly kicking the wooden shelter, whilst one of the group was filming it, in what they described as ‘mindless vandalism.’
Jeffrey Butcher, 77, of Bare, who is retired, said: “The park has been a lifeline for many of us throughout the last year, in lockdowns and restriction times.
“But there is a problem. Vandalism in the last year has been very bad. Railings round ponds have often been smashed, and have had to be repaired for the public’s safety. Rubbish has been thrown in the ponds so now some are choked with junk.
“Branches have been ripped off trees. Worst of all, a lot of damage has been done to the pavilion on the bowling green. At first the small windows in the screen were smashed, then the side windows and, then the whole side was caved in.
“We have stopped walking in the park in the evenings. Last year some of us confronted some lads who were banging the windows in the pavilion, trying to break them.
“There were four of us elderly adults and we felt safe to tell them off. When the groups are large or the teens slightly older, the risks are too high and we do not confront them. We walk in the park for relaxation, we don’t want hassle, so the evenings are no longer a good time for that.
“The park belongs to all of us, but the children are destroying it and costing all of us money.
“There used to be a park keeper but now there is no-one supervising it.
“In the first lockdown we saw a lot of police for two weeks but that all died and we have never seen the police again.
“Random police patrols into the park would be a start. Daytime it’s not so bad because there are lots of adults about but at teatime and evenings there are large groups of young people.
“Parents should be aware of where their children are and that this is going on.
“The children need to know it is their park and they need to look after it.
“With the clocks changing and the Easter holidays, the vandalism will get worse.”
Sgt Lindsay Brown, Partnerships Officer for Lancaster and Morecambe Police said: “We are aware of the vandalism over the last month and an increase in anti-social behaviour in Happy Mount Park. It has predominantly been groups of youths in contravention of Covid-19 regulations who have been causing the damage.
“Morecambe Neighbourhood Policing team have stepped up patrols and have been making several visits a day to the park.
“In addition to when we get called, we are working with the city council towards a long term solution to the problem.
“As the weather gets better we do get an increase in anti-social behaviour and with the effect of lockdown that has increased the problem somewhat.
“Leaving the front gate to the park open massively reduced the vandalism.
“The police and other partners are looking at how we can manage the situation.
“Four boys and one girl who were acting in an anti-social manner in Happy Mount Park have been given an acceptable behaviour contract for three months, which is the first step on the ladder towards civil action being taken against them.
“The park should be used respectfully and if anyone does know anyone damaging anything in the park, they should call police on 101.
“You can email the neighbourhood policing team on [email protected] or report a crime online at https://doitonline.lancashire.police.uk/.
“Alternatively speak to your local councillor or report a crime anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/.
A spokesman for Lancaster City Council said: “Happy Mount Park is a tremendous local asset enjoyed by a large number of local families and visitors throughout the year and something we should all take pride in. "It's a great shame that a minority get a thrill out of apparently random and pointless acts of vandalism. It is an insult to the hard work and dedication of those who have worked so tirelessly to make significant improvements to the park.“We are actively working on more ways to prevent similar incidents in the future and also need the support and help of the public. Anyone with information is urged to contact the police so action can be taken to prevent and detect such senseless destruction of public property."