GROUPS of youths reported to be hanging around drinking in a park late at night have been warned by police to curb their bad behaviour.

Community officers from the Gorse Hill neighbourhood policing team say they have received several reports of late-night drinking, littering and starting fires, by large groups of youngsters in St Mark’s Recreation Ground.

In one incident a group of teens were even reported to be taking random shots at passers by with a BB gun. The culprits are yet to be identified.

PC Stacey McGarry, the community beat manager for the area, said police have stepped up patrols in the area and have urged residents nearby to be vigilant and report any incidents to them when they happen.

She said: “We are having some issues at the park and residents have reported to us there are youths drinking late at night and being anti-social. “I know residents are taking it upon themselves to clear up the mess.

“It’s a meeting place for young people from Rodbourne, Gorse Hill, Pinehurst and the town centre and those causing the trouble are aged from in their early teens up to the early 20s.

“It’s a lovely park and one of the main issues is littering.

“They can also be intimidating to people walking through the park when it is dark. “We have put extra patrols in place and have asked Swindon Council about the possibility of installing more lighting.

“I would urge people to contact us when they see or hear anti-social behaviour going on so we can react quickly.”

Kate Mawer, 59, who often picks up beer bottles and cans which have been discarded by the group, said she hoped the youths would respect the park and its neighbours.

She said: “They are not bad kids really but I just wish they would respect that other people use the park too.

“It’s always been such a nice place to have nearby and I take my grandkids there all the time.

“But the littering and the boozing is like nothing I’ve seen there before. “Sometimes they kick the bins open and take the aluminium bit out to start a fire inside it and they do smash bottles against the fences.

“I go round picking the bottles up and can easily collect quite a few bags full.

“It is a shame you have to tidy it up before you feel you can take your grandson to play or your dog for a walk.”

Anyone with any information about incidents in the park, or who witnesses anti-social behaviour there should contact the Gorse Hill policing team on the 101 number.