So far this year, officers have been called out more than a dozen times to deal with rowdy and intimidating teenagers. There have been reports from shops of groups of teenagers being abusive and throwing stock around.
During the half-term holiday this week, trouble escalated with reports of teenagers throwing stones or firing pellets from a BB gun or catapult near the village hall where a mother and baby clinic was being held. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Special Constables will be supporting the police neighbourhood team in increased patrols following the incident on Tuesday.
Local councillor Colin Hunt raised the problem of anti-social behaviour at the meeting of South Gloucestershire Council the following day when, as part of the budget, a £50,000 anti-social behaviour (ASB) fund was approved. The money will provide for one-off projects to combat ASB, which has risen in some parts of the district, including Emersons Green.
Cllr Hunt told the meeting that Emersons Green was being “invaded” by teenagers who were “terrorising the place”. He said they had attacked mothers with young children and thrown missiles because they found it “funny”.
Police say the young people involved in anti-social behaviour are mostly aged between 13 and 16 and many come from Emersons Green, Downend, Lyde Green and Mangotsfield.
PC James Rochford said: “We have been using dispersal orders, giving us powers to direct someone involved in ASB to leave an area. Anyone returning within the specified time could be arrested.
“We’ve also increased our patrols of the area and are working with security staff to identify those responsible and if necessary see them banned from the retail park. “We have identified a number of the teenagers involved in this behaviour and I and my colleagues have been visiting their homes and talking to their parents and carers about these problems.
“I’d ask parents and carers to make sure they know where their children are, who they’re with and what they’re up to. Teenagers should be able to meet up at a retail park in the holidays, but they must respect their community and its facilities. Talk to them about the consequences of this sort of behaviour.”
He added that criminal damage and public order offences could lead to arrest and that a conviction can affect a young person’s future career or even travel plans, with visa applications being refused.