A police force has been criticised for sending a letter to families warning children could be punished for playing football in the street.
Officers trying to clamp down on antisocial behaviour sent the letter to people living in Warndon Villages, Worcester, saying ball games would not be tolerated.
Residents have described the letter as ‘ridiculous’ and criticised the ‘aggressive’ tone of the warning which they say is targeting children under ten as they are the only ones who play football outdoors.
One father, who asked not to be named, believes the police action comes following just a single complaint from one couple. He said he encouraged his young children to play outdoors so they weren’t glued to their phones and tablets.
Officers trying to clamp down on antisocial behaviour sent the letter to people living in Warndon Villages, Worcester, saying ball games would not be tolerated (stock image)
‘We live around the corner from a cul-de-sac full of loads of children who regularly play outside. It’s both lovely and quite rare to see now,’ he said. ‘We’ve always encouraged our children to play outside, like we used to, and take all the health, social and mental benefits that come with it.
‘Children are growing up not to consider the police there to protect them, but keeping an eye ready to punish them.
‘But the actions of shouting at children or calling police when you see them is causing them to further pull back from any community feeling themselves, and I think that’s harmful to everybody.’
The letters from West Mercia Police were sent out to residents in the area, where properties fetch as much as £450,000, over claims of antisocial behaviour by young people playing ball games and also riding e-scooters.
It said: ‘As you will understand, anti-social behaviour cannot be accepted.
‘The community has made this quite clear and the Government has responded with powerful legislation which has dramatic effects on the individual offenders.’
The letter continues: ‘This behaviour has taken the form of ball games in the street, the use of e-scooters, which are not road-legal apart from designated trial areas which Worcester is not, and children in the road causing cars to swerve to avoid an accident.’
A police force has been criticised for sending a letter to families warning children could be punished for playing football in the street (Pictured: Dockeray Avenue in Warndon Villages)
Another dad, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘It’s completely ridiculous.
‘Why can’t they let kids be kids anymore? Whatever happened for jumpers for goalposts? It’s better than them being cooped up in their bedrooms surely.
‘There’s footballers like Phil Foden who said playing street football made them the players they are. Let them play, these are just children.
He added: ‘You just don’t see kids playing out anymore and now there’s somewhere this is happening, police want to put a stop to it and send them back indoors.
‘It’s just madness and a sad reflection of the times we live in. I, for one, won’t be reporting children playing ball games in the street to police. I’ll say good on them.’
West Mercia Police said the letter referred to specific concerns raised by residents of Dockeray Avenue in Warndon Villages. A spokesman said: ‘It aimed to bring to the attention of parents the complaints that had been raised so that they could discuss with their children the safety implications of playing in the road and how particular behaviours could be seen as distressing to other residents.
‘We continue to work with the local community on issues that are important to them.
‘We have recently heard from some who had initially expressed concerns and they confirm that the original anti-social behaviour has since ceased.’
Tory councillor Andy Roberts, who represents Warndon, said: ‘The last thing police want to do is offend people. It seems like a bit of a mix-up in the messages there.
‘I know from speaking to the youth team and from the local policing team – that’s not their normal approach.
‘Their normal approach is, where they can, to find a solution. Certainly they don’t want to criminalise young people.’
The letter from the Warndon Safer Neighbourhood Team states in full: ‘l am responsible for addressing issues of Anti-Social Behaviour, hopefully to improve the quality of life for the Community. As such I am seeking your help.
‘As you will understand Anti-SociaI Behaviour cannot be accepted. The Community has made this quite clear and the Government has responded with powerful legislation which has dramatic effects on the individual offenders.
‘Over a period of time police have become aware of ongoing anti-social behaviour in Dockeray Avenue, Watchetts Green and Thackholme.
‘This behaviour has taken the form of ball games in the street. the use of E Scooters, which are not road legal apart from designated trial areas which Worcester is not and children in the road causing cars to swerve to avoid an accident.
‘These action cause distress to residents and anyone visiting the area.
‘Police are seeking your cooperation to stop this anti-social behaviour and make this area a pleasant place to live for all residents.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12010913/Police-force-branded-ridiculous-letter-warning-against-kids-playing-FOOTBALL-street.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270