Damage to gardens prompts Sidmouth police to ask parents: ‘Do you know where your children are?’

A smashed window in Connaught Gardens.

A smashed window in Connaught Gardens. - Credit: Archant

Police are asking parents if they know where their children are after a large group of youngsters were accused of creating a ‘hell of a mess’ in Connaught Gardens last weekend.

A smashed vodka bottle in Connaught Gardens.

A smashed vodka bottle in Connaught Gardens. - Credit: Archant

Photos sent to the Herald show smashed windows and broken booze bottles, with ‘40-plus teenagers’ reportedly to blame.

Antisocial behaviour is a regular occurrence in the beauty spot and police patrol when they can, but PCSO Steve Blanchford-Cox said mums and dads should bear some responsibility for their offspring.

“I’ve been up there on a late shift and moved groups of youths on,” he said. “There are teenagers up there most weekends.

“It’s a public park and they have every right to be there, but they make a mess and their behaviour is below par. Unfortunately, we are lacking numbers of officers and have other commitments.

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“If they cause criminal damage they could face a £1,000 fine or six months in prison. I would ask their parents: do you know what your children are doing? They might say they are staying at a friend’s, but have you checked? They aren’t just from Sidmouth, it’s Talaton, Ottery, all over.”

PCSO Blanchford-Cox said teens as young as 14 are drinking alcohol and becoming vulnerable, adding: “Eventually, someone is going to get hurt. It’s terribly frustrating when we have a lack of resources. I think CCTV would make a difference. It would help keep people safe.”

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A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council, which owns and maintains Connaught Gardens, said: “We are disappointed at the vandalism that continues to plague Connaught Gardens, causing hundreds of pounds’ worth of needless damage to this popular and much-loved community asset, which we then have to repair.

“We have now spent around £850 on repairs. Quite simply, it is a waste of taxpayers’ money and an unnecessary drain on our already stretched resources and our limited, ever-shrinking budgets. We have to prioritise repairs as our budgets allow, which means making difficult decisions in terms of what gets done and when.

“CCTV is something that we are investigating, but again this will be a costly exercise and, of course, we will continue to work with the police to look at better ways of deterring antisocial behaviour.”

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