CCTV and alarms may be installed at parks to stop thuggish behaviour throughout the summer holidays.

Every high school in the Southend borough has been warned pupils will face a court appearance if they cause trouble in parks.

Police have also increased patrols in all parks with particular attention to five which attract drug dealing, criminal damage, antisocial behaviour and noise nuisance.

The work comes after a spate of persistent vandalism in Belfairs Park.

Louts set fire to piles of timber, kicked the heads off sprinklers, and stole metal flag poles during a week-long crime wave which caused £550 of damage.

Southend Council’s changing rooms at Belfairs sports ground across the road from the golf club was also targeted by arsonists.

The blaze, in which vandals stuffed leaves behind wooden cladding on the building, is estimated to cost the council up to £2,000 to repair.

Insp Brad Dickel, from Leigh neighbourhood policing team, said: “We have seen increases in criminal damage, antisocial behaviour and youth nuisance.

It’s attributed to the longer evenings which always allows for more people congregating in the parks. They are egging each other on to do something silly.

“Children play in parks, but it can escalate and that’s when children find themselves in hot water.

“We are educating them all across the borough. It’s about minimising the risk by educating the individual, rather than them finding themselves in front of magistrates.”

Mr Dickel said youngsters could be deterred with the use of mosquito alarms which emit a high-pitched noise only audible to young people.

He said: “We have been talking to Southend Council about the sighting of CCTV and are considering a mosquito alarm.

It’s finding that happy medium by not annoying the residents, but stopping the troublesome youths.”

Where possible police will attend the parks during their down time to ensure there is a presence to deter offenders.

Residents are also encouraged to report incidents to the police so they can keep tabs on behaviour.

Elaine Mumford, 69, of Chaingate Avenue, set up a Neighbourhood Watch in her area to stamp out low level crime in her area, particularly around Bournes Green Park.

She said: “It would be absolutely brilliant to see more police in the parks. It is a shortage of man power which is the problem through many cut backs, which is no fault of the police’s.

“This is a positive step through the summer holidays.

My husband has been walking the dog at 7am and seen young boys setting fire to paper. They told him they are doing it because they were bored.

“There is also a problem with people charging around in mini motorbikes which is just dangerous.

Hopefully these new patrols will improve the area as the summer holidays begin.”

Call to appoint a permanent warden to patrol Belfairs Park

CALLS have been made for a permanent warden at Belfairs Park after a councillor said vandalism was happening every day.

Stephen Aylen, Independent Southend councillor for Belfairs, said fires, theft and criminal damage was a “typical day” at Belfairs Park in Leigh.

He said: “Our park staff spend considerable time repairing vandalised golf courses, bowls greens etcetera every day of the week.

“I have repeatedly called for a permanent warden service in Belfairs Park or a better coverage as it would be cost effective.”

Southend Council, which employs three park wardens who between them provide seven-day cover for parks between 7.30am and 9.30pm, said it would be too expensive to have a permanent park warden in just one park.

Graham Longley, Southend Council’s enterprise, tourism and economic development boss, said: “Of course I can understand councillor Aylen seeking to try and gain additional support for his ward in light of the recent incidents.

“He will also be aware that the finance is not readily available to provide additional park wardens above the current level.

“The three wardens we do have do a fantastic job to cover all council parks across the borough and focus on priority sites, of which Belfairs is one.”

Wardens have been doing extra evening patrols. The council urged residents to report criminal activity.