Sunday, 24 March 2019

Camera added to pavilion to deter youths taking drugs

AN infra-red camera has been installed at Stoke Row pavilion after evidence of drug-taking was discovered.

Joint ends, a pot used to hold cannabis and “laughing gas” cylinders were left on the veranda of the building in Newlands Lane.

Pavilion secretary June Chalker said there were two benches outside the building and outdoor lighting which encouraged teenagers to gather there in the evening.

She said the committee was happy for them to do so providing they behaved.

However, in the latest incident, they left a mess.

Mrs Chalker said: “The lady who runs the mother and toddler group found spliffs under one of the benches. The cleaner found an empty pot of cannabis.

“They had also been using laughing gas. They were stupid because they left all the evidence behind.

“They are just kids from the village or friends of these children from the surrounding villages.

“I hate to say it but it seems like it’s a sign of the times and shows total disrespect for other people’s property. It’s a double-edged sword because the teenagers don’t have anywhere to go but we don’t want this sort of activity at the pavilion.”

The Stoke Row Sports and Leisure Club, a charity which owns the building, reported the incident to the police.

Mrs Chalker said: “We wanted to nip it in the bud and stop it from happening because we didn’t want Stoke Row pavilion to be known as the place for people to come and take drugs.”

Police recommended installing a camera in addition to the four which were fitted in 2016 after the pavilion was vandalised.

On that occasion youths broke in and let off a fire extinguisher, smashed framed photographs of the village cricket team and discarded beer bottles on the floor.

Mrs Chalker said: “I’m hoping word has got around that we have installed another camera and that will stop this kind of activity going on. To date it seems to have done the trick. The police have also said they will add Stoke Row pavilion and sports area to their evening patrols, even if it’s only once a month, and hopefully that will be a deterrent as well.”

In 2017 a youth who vandalised a flagpole at the pavilion was traced and punished after being caught on CCTV. The teenage boy had to write a letter of apology and carry out two hours of community work.

He and a friend were caught on camera attacking the hollow steel pole, which is one of two that Stoke Row cubs and beavers use for activities during the summer.

The other youth grabbed the base and shook it violently for several minutes until the first boy took over, continuing to do so until it snapped in two. He threw the finial from the top half into a hedgerow before fleeing.

Mrs Chalker uploaded the footage of the incident on the village’s Facebook page and several residents identified the pair.

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