Golf buggy police round up youths
Police officers jumped into golf buggies to round up teenagers suspected of anti-social behaviour - minutes after launching a campaign to tackle criminal damage.
Superintendent Kerrin Smith, Sergeant Dave Clarke and other officers began a low-speed pursuit across Beamish Park Golf Club, near Stanley, County Durham, on Tuesday evening after reports of youths barricading the nearby Sustrans cycleway with broken branches.
The officers flushed the youngsters out of woods where they were hiding and, still in the buggies, escorted them to a police van.
The group were given a ticking-off and then their parents came to collect them.
Minutes earlier, Mr Smith, along with colleagues, neighbourhood wardens and Police Community Support Officers, had attended the launch of Durham Police's Respect Your Street campaign.
After they heard reports of youths breaking branches and using them to block the popular C2C cycle path, and throwing things from a bridge, they leapt into action.
They were given a quick lesson in how to use the buggies, then drove off across the golf course near where the teenagers had been spotted hiding in woods.
PCSOs waded across a river, while other officers joined the pursuit on foot.
Durham Police tweeted a series of pictures about the events.
The first shows officers and local people posing for a picture at the launch of Respect Your Street in Stanley.
The next shows a grainy picture of youths on the golf course, followed by a smiling Mr Smith in a golf buggy ready "to track down the culprits".
The fourth picture shows eight boys lined up against a police van with their faces away from the camera.
The final message says: "#respectyourstreet is about police and others working in partnership to tackle criminal damage in the community".
Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg congratulated the officers, tweeting: "Excellent work, well done."
Police received a call from a member of the public about stones being thrown at people and traffic shortly after the campaign launch, Ms Smith said.
Officers set off in vans to look for the culprits and located them near the golf course and, while some others set off on foot from one direction, she and Sgt Clarke were coming from the direction of the golf course.
She said: "We commandeered two golf buggies from one of the professionals and zoomed as quickly as we could - which is not very fast - down the golf course.
"It was the best use of the resources we could make at the time.
"We then used the buggies to shepherd the kids back up to where the police vans were."
She believed the wide cycle path had been blocked to make it harder for police to chase the teenagers in regular vehicles.
After they were taken to the local police station and spoken to with their parents, they were apologetic, the officer said.
She said the campaign against criminal damage was aimed at young people and uses YouTube videos to highlight how even apparently minor incidents can have a serious impact on victims.