“It is our hotspot area at the moment,” admitted Insp Sharon Petherbridge. “We are talking of around 30 or 40 people hanging around there during the lighter, warmer evenings.
“Most of them are drinking underage and are creating a lot of vandalism in the area. It makes life miserable for local people.
“They create a lot of mess as well by smashing glass bottles on the ground when they’ve finished with them.
“It’s very intimidating for people who just want to use the park for football or a walk.”
The council’s park rangers regularly patrol the area, tidying up the litter and graffiti that is left behind and often having to endure abuse hurled at them by foul-mouthed youths.
Encouraging groups of people to move away from the parks is a big part of their job that proves difficult when they come up against intoxicated teenagers.
Brian Stephens, parks and horticultural officer at Rushmoor Council, admitted that the park rangers do get verbally abused by youths.
“They do have to deal with antisocial behaviour and youths do say things untoward to them. The odd thing is also thrown at the vehicles, but it is part of their job to stop and tell youths that they shouldn’t be doing certain things.
“It’s not a big issue with us though — none of our rangers have been attacked.”
Yet the underage drinking and subsequent bad beha-viour is a big issue with the police who are launching a crackdown on alcohol sales.
“We are clamping down on the underage drinking,” said Insp Petherbridge. “We want to find out where the alcohol is coming from — whether from shops or home.
“It is illegal for them to be drinking it so if we see alcohol we will seize it and dispose of it immediately.”
This action involves targeting shops where police believe underage liquor sales are going on and stopping older people from buying drink for teenagers.
Joint patrols between police and the park rangers are also starting to take place in an effort to deter the groups from gathering and causing trouble in the park at night.
Insp Petherbridge believes that long-term solutions for the youths need to be implemented as stopping them from drinking and telling them to move on is not sustainable for the future.
“It needs people to get to them to see what they want. I’m sure they would rather be doing something than be bored and hang around in groups.
“I am pleased to see that the skatepark that was built there is being put to good use and that people enjoy the facility.
“It is being kept in good order with the youths painting it and keeping it in good condition, although it has been tagged with graffiti since.”
She emphasised that more youth groups were needed in the area for young people, but that there was a shortage of people who were willing to run them.