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Teen gangs targeted in summer crackdown

PUBLISHED: 12:14 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 07 September 2010

Josie Hinton YOUNG troublemakers will be banned from Paddington Recreation Ground this summer as Maida Vale police crack down on crime and antisocial behaviour. Officers have drawn up letters which will bar unruly teenagers from the park if they are found

Josie Hinton

YOUNG troublemakers will be banned from Paddington Recreation Ground this summer as Maida Vale police crack down on crime and antisocial behaviour.

Officers have drawn up letters which will bar unruly teenagers from the park if they are found smoking cannabis or behaving in an intimidating and anti-social manner.

The move follows widespread concern over teens congregating and intimidating younger children. Residents fear the situation will get worse during the summer months.

Sgt Adam McGregor, of Maida Vale Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: "A hard core of people always hang around in the park, smoking cannabis and intimidating people.

"Letters have already been drawn up and if we find anyone taking cannabis or engaging in other anti-social behaviour, they will be served with a letter and banned from the park on the spot. They'll be given for substantial breaches of the code of conduct for the park. We are coming down harshly on troublemakers, and if anyone comes back into the park with an injunction they will be immediately arrested."

Father Daniel Hutchinson, 35, of Chippenham Avenue, said he is glad the police are taking a tougher line.

"I find some of the young people round here intimidating and I'm a grown man," he said. "They come with their pitbull terriers in large groups and it's really daunting at times. I think they should find something else to do."

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It's a ridiculous situation. I'm scared of my kids going to the park. This is supposed to be a family area but you don't feel safe sending your children out to play."

But Delores Granger, 36, a mother of two young children who lives in Fernhead Road, said she didn't think the letters go far enough.

"Giving these children a letter is absurd," she said. "That will not make the slightest bit of difference. The police need to be a lot tougher on anti-social behaviour, most parks in this area are not family friendly anymore. I don't feel safe now and no piece of paper will make me feel any safer."

A local youth worker has spoken out against the police initiative, which she says unfairly stigmatises young people. Her concerns echo the controversial Barnardo's report 'breaking the cycle' which found 84 per cent of young people get into trouble because of boredom.

"The problem is where do you put these young people?" she said. "If they can't go to the park, where can they go? Maybe the answer is more park wardens to watch their behaviour, but there needs to be a place that young people can go and enjoy themselves."

The Maida Vale police team will be at Paddington Rec throughout June, July and August. A public meeting will be held on June 22 in the Maida Centre, Lanark Road, where residents can discuss concerns.

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