A stark warning has been issued ahead of the summer holidays following a spate of vandalism attacks in parks across Darlington.

Darlington Borough Council and Police have pledged a ‘zero tolerance’ approach in dealing with those responsible for incidents which have seen more than £3,000 worth of damage caused to play equipment in the last two months.

It comes as the toddler play area at South Park is set to reopen after local residents, organisations and businesses backed an appeal by Groundwork North East & Cumbria to raise £20,000 to replace play equipment destroyed by fire in a vandal attack earlier in the year.

Dean Scott, Council officer responsible for park play equipment and repairs, said:

“The incident in the South Park shocked the local community which rallied round to raise the funds needed to replace the equipment.

“Worryingly, there’s been a spate of incidents in parks across Darlington in recent weeks that has seen play equipment damaged.

“It appears to have been different groups of offenders each time and, with the help of CCTV and local residents, the Police have caught those responsible for some of the incidents. They have been carrying out work in the park as part of their punishment.

“But as the summer holiday is often a time when we see a peak in such incidents, we’re asking people to be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious to Police. We’d also urge parents to encourage teenagers to think twice before getting involved in such antisocial behaviour, which will not be tolerated.”

Inspector Chris Knox, of Darlington Police, said:

“We will be clamping down on criminal damage over the summer holidays and will deal with those responsible appropriately.

“We will be using dispersal orders on relevant areas to diffuse groups of people who we believe are causing antisocial behaviour.”

Anyone who spots anything suspicious can contact Police on 101. To report any damaged play equipment please contact Darlington Borough Council customer services by email customerservices@darlington.gov.uk or call 405000.