Kids use Sidmouth building site ‘as playgorund’

Children treat construction equipment ‘like toys’

CHILDREN are using a Sidmouth building site as a playground and construction workers’ tools as toys, police have warned.

Officers fear it’s a matter of time before a youngster is hurt at sites land where more than 300 homes are being built in the Stowford Rise area.

They say concerned members of the public have reported youths larking about on scaffolding, running through trenches and playing with building equipment - an average of three times a week.

Sergeant Andy Turner said one arrest has been made in relation to the spate.

He warned that parents of repeat offenders who’ve “ignored” police advice could see their details passed on to social services.

“It’s not the job of the emergency services to supervise people’s children,” said Sgt Turner.

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“We’ve continually asked parents to take control of their children and this seems to be largely ignored.

“Action can be taken against parents who continually allow their children to be at risk playing on these dangerous sites. This can inlcude passing details to social services.

“We’ve had reports of kids running around on scaffolding on partially constructed houses, running through trenches, and using building equipment as toys.

“People keep on ringing in and police have been taken away from other duties.

“Children see building sites as a playground. In my 20 years of experience, I can count a number of times children have been injured.

“My concern is for kids who don’t know the dangers- messing around in trenches that could quite easily collapse.”

Sgt Turner said building site staff had done an “exceptional” job securing such a big site, but added: “Builders are not security guards.”

Town councillor Dawn Manley, of Baker Close, said she wasn’t aware of a problem, but hoped young people could be encouraged to utilise the newly opened Stowford Community Centre more.

Councillor Manley pointed to the loss of a green space, once used by children and teens, to the housing development.

She added: “It was predictable there would be problems when teenagers have nowhere to go.”