Increased police patrols and new CCTV after spate of vandalism at Castleford park
Increased police patrols and increased engagement with schools are among the plans in place to engage with young people in Castleford, after a spate of vandalism at a town park.
Queens Park has recently undergone work to install new flowerbeds, plant new flowers, improve signage and repair footpaths.
But just weeks after this work was finished, vandals targeted the park, damaging the area and setting fire to fences.
Wakefield Council have now teamed up with partners including youth workers, police officers and fire fighters to increase engagement with children and young people in the town.
As well as increasing patrols in Queens Park, the team will work to encourage young people to use parks positively and engage in other activities, which are designed to support their health and well-being.
Councillor Denise Jeffery is leader of the council, and also represents the Castleford Central and Glasshoughton ward. She said: “We have committed to invest in our parks and public spaces and will be upgrading a number of our urban parks to make them a more enjoyable place for our residents to visit – so I was really saddened to hear of the problems at Queens Park in Castleford.
“We know that the vast majority of children and young people using the park do so respectfully and it’s a shame that the actions of the few spoil the park environment for other young people as well as local adults.
“Anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in our district and will be reported to the police, however, we need to understand the reasons why this is happening and we’re committed to working with young people to find out what they need and how we can help so that they have positive spaces and activities to enjoy.
“We will work with partners to find out how we can improve the lives of young people in this area and across the district and work will continue to upgrade Queens Park.”
Additional works are expected to be carried out in the park in the coming months, which will see the bandstand restores and a new play area installed.
Local ward councillors are also planning to invest in CCTV for the park to reduce the risk of future anti-social behaviour.
And Wakefield Council's youth work team will continue work in the area to reduce anti-social behaviour.
The council's cabinet will next month consider a report setting out proposals for the redevelopment of Wakefield's Lightwaves Leisure Centre, as well as developing three youth support hubs across the district.
Sergeant Karl Miller, of the Castleford Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Anti-social behaviour and related crime can and does have a real impact on residents’ quality of life with only a small number of offences having a big impact on perceptions of crime.
“We are working with partners and local schools to identify those responsible.
“There will be increased neighbourhood patrols and police activity in the area to re-assure the community and we will take action when offences are reported.
“I want to thank residents who have provided us with information about crime and anti-social behaviour taking place in the Queens Park area and would encourage residents to keep getting in touch.
“Reports can be made to us direct on 101 online or anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”
Donna Wagner, District Prevention Manager at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We work really hard to encourage local residents to use these parks safely so that everyone can enjoy the open spaces that Wakefield has to offer, particularly in Castleford.
“The things that have happened recently have had a huge impact on the communities around the park and also increased demand on our services.
"We’re committed to working with our partners to tackle the activity that has occurred recently so that the vast majority of people who live in the area who do use the park safely can continue to do so.”
Parent and carers who are concerned about their children can get support and advice here.