Thursday, 30 August 2007

BRACKNELL: Measures to keep problem teenagers off racecourse

Measures to keep problem teenagers off racecourse

GANGS of teenagers have been caught on camera taking drugs, binge drinking and engaging in sexual activity.

After months of problems at Ascot Racecourse, bosses are slapping a closure sign on the heath in a bid to reduce antisocial behaviour there.

Just this weekend, a gate was broken down by a gang of youths who then swam in the lake at the racecourse grounds.

Ascot Racecourse operations manager Ronnie Wilkie said there are incidents of antisocial behaviour on the racecourse heath every weekend.

He said: "We have pictures that easily identify these kids on camera and show them smashing vodka bottles, taking drugs and engaging in sexual acts.

"Parents of these teens must know their kids are coming home late at night drunk. Why are they letting their kids behave this way?"

Mr Wilkie is setting up a meeting with Ascot councillors and businesses in September to talk about ways to reduce the area's antisocial behaviour problems.

He added: "I am willing to set up a youth club for kids in the area to give them something to do and somewhere to meet up."

The tunnel underneath Winkfield Road, which leads to the racecourse, will be closed between 7pm-7am in an effort to keep groups of teenagers off the heath.

Ascot PC Rob McIver said: "I have supported the closure of the tunnel for a long time. It is a place where groups of teenagers congregate in the evenings to drink alcohol."

PC McIver said he had not seen CCTV images of children involved in drug-taking or engaging in sexual acts.

He added: "These problems do not just occur around the race-course but happen at the railway station and at the back of Budgens supermarket."

Royal Borough councillor David Hilton, who covers Ascot, has created a neighbourhood action group to discuss problems with police, businesses and residents.

He said: "During the election campaign this year we found that at the top of people's wish list in the area was to have more police community support officers.This shows they feel there is a problem with antisocial behaviour which needs to be tackled.

"I think the behaviour that goes on in the area is very shocking and it is disappointing that teenagers behave in this way."

Cllr Hilton said the council is providing two community officers to work with the area's youngsters and will also provide funds for two police community support officers.

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