A mother is furious after police forced her daughter to stop playing in the woods in Newcastle, where she had been building a fort with friends and having a picnic.
“These days so many children are addicted to their Xbox, they eat junk food and rarely go outside,” said primary school teacher Nicola Booth, who was delighted when her 14-year-old daughter Becky said she was going to the woods to build a den.
“I’m really passionate about making sure my children go outside to play as I’m a teacher and I have seen the effect watching television and playing on computer games has on children,” Booth added.
However, a number of dog walkers allegedly called the police on the girls as they played in the woods. When the police arrived to investigate, they accused the girls of anti-social behavior, and told them to go home.
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The officers told the girls that they were not allowed to play in the woods, and even checked if the children had ASBOs. An ASBO is a civil order issued against a person who has been shown to display anti-social or threatening behavior.
Outraged, Booth called the police and “asked why they had been evicted and they said dog walkers had complained.”
“I was absolutely furious,” Booth said. “They were just kids building a den. They had no drinks, drugs or loud music – they had pop and crisps as they knew it would be a long day.”
A spokesman from the Northumbria police defended the officers’ actions, saying, “We received a complaint from a local resident about teenagers hanging around in the woodlands. Any reports of anti-social behavior in the area are treated as a priority for the local police team.”
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The spokesman continued on to say that an “officer attended and spoke to youths. It was found that no offense had been committed and they were advised that we had received a complaint.”
Although the incident is not the first of its kind – Booth noted that previously, a group of children had been stopped from building a tree house and were even ordered to tear it down – it still came as something of a shock.
“I just couldn’t believe they would send a police officer for that. It is incredible,” Booth stated.