POLICE plan to establish a permanent base at Penhill Library after staff were besieged by abusive youths as young as 10.

Nearly a dozen young boys and girls have been banned from the library in the last four months for intimidating and abusing staff.

And Swindon council says it has been forced to make security guards available on call to vulnerable librarians throughout the town.

Eleven children aged between 10 and 15, six of whom are girls, have been barred from using Penhill Library after intimidating staff.

Five girls aren't allowed to enter the library for a year while another has been barred for three months.

Four boys, including one as young as 10, have been suspended for a year with another being banned for three months.

Assaults on library workers in the town have contributed to a number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders being issued.

Swindon Council's group library manager, Shaun Smith, said: "Staff have been threatened and have difficult things to deal with.

"In the past few months there have been incidents involving youths where the police had to be called.

"We had one major incident where a big fight kicked off and we had to call the police.

"It is a very difficult problem and we are trying to help our staff overcome it."

Youngsters mostly visit Swindon's libraries to use its 142 computers for free.

Mr Smith said: "The staff felt it wasn't their job to deal with people who get aggressive - they are only expected to ask them to leave.

"The library has suffered in Penhill as it is often the only place open - the kids come in to use the computers and they kick off. We are doing what we can to stop it happening."

He said that Penhill isn't the only affected library as it is a widespread problem. Youths spill out from the library into the John Moulton Hall, which houses it.

Coun David Glaholm (Lab, Penhill) said: "We've been making sure there is a presence in the building when the library is open. The police and the local community have been coming together.

"But these youths need somewhere to go."

The council's library electronic service manager, Marion Stevens, said: "All our libraries have to cope with abuse week in and week out. It is a huge issue and staff are stressed by it.

"The computers attract kids that wouldn't normally come in. By barring them from the computers, it takes away the reason for them to come in."

PC Conway Duncan, the community beat manager for Penhill, said: "We have been working very closely with the library. They have been informing me of the names and I have made a few interventions.

"The Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) has an anti-social behaviour database and their names have been going on there and letters have been sent out.

He said children face Asbos and acceptable behaviour contracts if they continue to act up.

"The letters have gone to a few that take heed but we have got others that need a visit to take notice," he said.

"This behaviour is not to be tolerated because it's not fair on the residents in the area and people using these facilities."