Bowls club in hot water with cops for its sting operation to catch teen vandals

Fed-up volunteers at a bowling club landed themselves in hot water after they launched their own sting operation to catch teenage vandals.

Harehills Park Bowling Club in Leeds said they were told off by cops for filming the youths who had caused an "unprecedented amount" of disruption over the last eight months.

The exhausted club said they set up CCTV to crackdown on the behaviour and said its shelters were wrecked.

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They added that someone even caused around £3,000 of damage after they tried to break into a shed.

Just hours after turning on the system, volunteers noticed that one of the memorial benches had been targeted.

The CCTV managed to take clear images of the suspects before they covered up in balaclavas and destroyed the cameras.

However, West Yorkshire Police were not happy with the club's desperate efforts and criticised making the video.

It was reported that the next day, the same youngsters approached members on the bowling green and asked if they could play.

Recognising the youths, volunteers rang the police who advised them to lock the vandals on the bowling green until they arrived.

In a statement online, a member of Harehills Park Bowling Club said: "The police actually complained to me for taking a video because they are kids.

"We literally did their job for them, instructed them how to apprehend them, yet protecting them because of their age, the law is not on our side when it comes to youths.

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"The reaction of them being caught, tears, feeling nauseous I hope we have nipped it in the bud."

They added: "I made it clear the upset that had been caused, the time and money spent, how long we had been in existence, they apologised and they were made aware that they can come back anytime to play bowls and even sit in the greens but not do any damage.

"Apparently they will be forced to write a letter of apology and parents informed.

"We gave the officers our leaflets to give to their parents and we can only hope that they are decent people and are ashamed and do the right thing and speak to their kids and know exactly what they are doing and who they are with in future."

Laura Hassoun, chairman of the club, said: "We just hope that they come and have a game with us, and respect the game moving forward.

"The police took them home and made them write an apology, so we just hope that they do have decent parents who are going to be responsible and hopefully come forward and come and meet us.

"We don't expect any compensation financially but meeting us would be the best way forward for us."

There is no law at this time which prevents people from taking pictures of others in public.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police said: "Police attended Harehills Bowling Club at about 6.10pm on 19 August after it was reported that a male who was alleged to have been involved in an incident of damage at the location on the previous night had reattended with others.

"Officers liaised with the reporting person and two 13-year-old males received community resolutions after they admitted to being involved.

"Reports of burglary and criminal damage are taken seriously and will be investigated, with action taken against those who are found to be responsible."

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