By Tyler Morrell
RESIDENTS IN Hemsworth have raised concerns about damage around West End Park caused by the anti-social behaviour of youths congregating in the area.
Officials from Wakefield Council, Wakefield District Housing and West Yorkshire Police organised a meeting last Wednesday alongside local councillors, to respond to the residents’ complaints.
Coun Sandra Pickin, who attended the meeting, said: “There have been youths congregating in the park and anti-social behaviour which has caused damage to a local resident’s property.
“There are now plans to build a new fence to help protect the properties around the park.
“There are now young girls and boys congregating at the park from all different age groups which is worrying for children’s safety.”
According to statistics from the Police.co.uk website, crime in Hemsworth has risen from 117 incidents in August 2016 to 138 in August 2017.
However, anti-social behaviour crime has not changed as the statistics show it has stayed at 31 incidents in August 2016 and in August 2017.
West Yorkshire Police said officers will now be paying closer attention to the park and will be liaising with the council.
But some residents think young people are being scapegoated. Carol Dawson, 56, from Barnsley Road, said: “I think it’s disgusting how they are portraying the youth.
“It’s good to blame the children but they don’t do anything for them, they haven’t got any facilities down there for the kids to go and do something constructive, but that comes down to adults not treating kids like kids.
“I used to have a container on the park where I taught rugby and art to the kids but that isn’t there anymore and the park is instead full of litter and broken glass.
“The behaviour and congregating won’t stop even with the fence because it is an open park with three different entrances.
“Instead of pointing the finger, what can we do to support them, have they even asked the children?”
Glynn Humphries, service director for environment and streetscene at Wakefield Council, said: “The council works across the district, often in partnership with both voluntary and community organisations to support young people in a variety of ways.
“We do not tolerate anti-social behaviour in our district. We are aware of residents’ concerns and are addressing them.”
The police are asking anyone who see youths drinking alcohol or anyone committing damage in the area to report it to 101.