Police and Ottery St Mary Football Club have teamed up to tackle nuisance youths blighting Washbrook Meadows with unruly antics and vandalism.
A ‘small minority’ of youngsters’ bad behaviour could see the well-behaved majority pay the penalty – as the facilities could now be shut off to the general public.
In the past week, the club has been left counting the cost of smashed sheds, broken goals, ripped-up benches, and fences being pushed over.
Police suspect underage drinking is involved and say the community-minded club is completely blameless for the foul play.
Plans are now being being formulated to ensure the ‘rude’ culprits are given a red card.
In a statement to the Ottery community today, the football club said: “Over the past six months, we have had vandalism and unruly behaviour along with rudeness and complete disrespect from a small minority of younger people.
“As a community club, we like to encourage – especially in the school holidays – children to be able to come onto our land to play football and enjoy the outdoors
“However, the costs of replacing the broken items and the general attitudes of some are leading us to take firm action towards anyone we find on our land not behaving in a manner that is acceptable.
“We will be speaking with the local council, along with the police, to make sure that we can put a stop to this behaviour and allow the majority of the local community that have full respect, and act in a way that makes their parents proud, to be able to enjoy the facilities we have.
“We don’t want to completely shut the facilities off, however, if it continues, we will have to look at this.
“Within the past seven days we have had our sheds smashed, goals broken, benches virtually ripped from the ground, rubbish left all over the grounds, fences pushed down and complete rudeness from a small minority – this cannot continue.
“Also, we would like to remind all that there is one entrance to the property, which is not through hedges, which will cause issue as the winter comes when the foliage has been battered down and pushed into the drainage ditch which allows for excess water to drain away – as it now won’t.
“Apologies for the majority of the community that show respect and are the politest young children and adults around.
“Let’s work together to keep the facilities in use for those that wish to use them in the manner they should be used.”
PCSO Jonathan Sims, of the Ottery neighbourhood policing team, said: “It has come to our attention that there is ongoing antisocial behaviour and criminal damage within the grounds of the football club. This includes possible underage drinking.
“This behaviour is not associated with events held at the club and is just people coming onto the site and fields when the club is closed.
“The club have said that you will not be welcome on the site other than at functions or events.
“There has been significant damage caused to buildings and equipment. Police will be looking at CCTV and any offenders will be dealt with robustly.
“The club is a key part of the community and it is such a shame that people are behaving in such a way.”
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