Children as young as 14 – who we have not identifed – were filmed smoking drugs on Lancaster’s Ridge estate in broad daylight.
One young boy appears to be physically gagging during the footage, shared with the Guardian, which shows a dealer selling what appears to be marijuana to the group who then roll up and smoke it.
Distressed residents have highlighted what they say is a regular occurrence at Ridge Square area as police and council join together to obtain one of the country’s first Public Space Protection Orders on the housing estate.
It follows previous implementation of a dispersal order on the Ridge targeting children as young as six in 2013.
The latest footage was filmed during the Easter holidays.
Ridge Square has a history of anti-social behaviour.
The order, when agreed, will give greater powers to the police and the council
Residents have described it as a magnet for criminal activity due to its location and layout.
In December 2013, new police powers enabled officers to move groups of two or more people away from the square if they were causing alarm, harassment or distress to others.
The order applied to children as young as six.
Recent video footage seen by the Lancaster Guardian appears to show children as young as 14, who we have not identified, taking drugs in the square. The films seemingly shows youngsters dealing and smoking cannabis, damaging bikes and vandalising property.
A resident also says he has been verbally abused, threatened and has had eggs thrown at his window, claiming that it will only be a matter of time before the incidents escalate and someone will be seriously hurt.
In response, Lancaster City Council, with the help of the police, are bringing forward a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which aims to clamp down on the problems once and for all.
Dr Chris Hill, from Keswick Walk, said: “The abuse you get down there is unbelievable. There is definitely a gang forming, and in two years time if nothing is done what we’ll have is a serious drug gang.
“I’ve been threatened on a number of occasions, I’ve been told ‘we’ll get you’, ‘we’ll kill you’.
“I’ve lived here for 11 years, and this has been developing since summer 2013.
“I bought a video camera to film what’s going on, and over the last eight months I have recorded many instances of drug dealing on Ridge Square.”
Bulk Ward Coun Caroline Jackson said she was aware of the footage and had spoken to Dr Hill.
She said: “We’ve had a lot of discussions with the police on this, who have been extremely good with their work on the square. It’s been high priority, not because of drug dealing, but because of the anti-social aspect such as stone throwing and bad language. It’s been pretty quiet lately, but every time there’s a school holiday, there’s an increase in anti-social behaviour.”
Nigel Parkinson, neighbourhood police inspector for Lancaster said: “We take anti-social behaviour very seriously, and we will deal with those who are making a blight on the community. If local people want to report incidents to us, we will act accordingly.”
Insp Parkinson added: “I’ll be making some enquiries about the footage. We do look at it and we will review that evidence.”
Mark Davies, Chief Officer (Environment) at Lancaster City Council said future plans could be to redesign Ridge Square. He said: “The council, police and other agencies have spent, and continue to do so, a significant amount of resource on the Ridge in tackling issues where a small minority of people do things that impact on the quality of life of the majority of residents who are good citizens and take pride in their community.”
Mr Davies said that extensive consultations had taken place, with residents asked about issues which might be addressed by a Public Spaces Protection Order in the square. He added: “The order, when agreed, will give greater powers to the police and the council to deal with the types of anti-social behaviour that residents are concerned about.”
For more info visit www.lancaster.gov.uk/community-and-living/community-safety/public-space-protection-order/