AN emergency anti-social behaviour (ASB) meeting has been held to address the 'escalating' issue of anti-social incidents in Hexham.

There have been numerous reports of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage in the area.

Hexham Town Council is co-ordinating public meetings with parents, schools and the community to address the behaviour.

The Hexham Giant statue, installed by Miscreations theatre group, has been damaged, along with the electrical system at the Bandstand.

Vandalism has been reported at the Sele play area, at Quatre Bras allotments and at Hexham Bus Station.

READ MORE: Police investigating and appealing for information about property vandalism

READ MORE: Town sees rise in 'really disturbing' vandalism - Mayor

Town and county councillor Suzanne Fairless-Aitken said: "Hexham Town Council met for an emergency, informal meeting and are wanting to co-ordinate a public meeting with parents, schools, residents and community groups.

"I am contacting Northumberland County Council for temporary CCTV in certain areas, and Cllr Grennan is asking Kim McGuinness for funding for a detached community liaison officer to chat with groups of kids hanging around. 

"Cllr Kennedy is going to the schools for an urgent 'watch yer kids' alert email. We are hoping to co-ordinate youth groups, Hexham Youthy, No.28 and the Eden Lounge as trusted representatives in our community.

"Trust is key, and the Hexham network of close-knit residents keeping an eye out for each other and watching what is going on will help to resolve this current escalation in poor behaviour."

Penny Grennan, a town councillor for Hexham Gilesgate Ward (Central) said: "Hexham Town Council are addressing the rise in serious vandalism in Hexham with a town-wide response.

"We are working with the Police, community groups, the schools, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Northumberland County Council. We will also be calling a Hexham town public meeting to discuss ways of tackling this problem."

She added: "Our town is flourishing and people are commenting on how vibrant it is. Vandalism spoils this, it is pointless, wasteful and criminal and unacceptable in all its forms.

"We need to all come together to address the problem and the Town Council is working hard to facilitate this," Cllr Grennan said.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: "Operations Bandstand, a dedicated operation which seeks to crack down on anti-social behaviour has been launched in the Hexham Town Centre and Sele Park areas.

"Extra patrols of the areas have been arranged and we are working with the local authority to explore additional CCTV being erected in key areas of the town.

"We know anti-social behaviour, such as vandalism, can cause misery in communities and we remain committed to engaging with locals and working with partners."

John Cody Doherty, a Hexham resident, said: "Benches were trashed in the park and moved, the bus station toilets are repeatedly vandalised.

"I'm disabled and sometimes get short-changed and need to rush, and when there's no access to toilets and for the elderly too, it's shocking," he said.

A spokesperson from Northumberland County Council said: "We are aware of ongoing vandalism in the park and bus station and council teams have been fixing and tidying up the damage. 

"This is an extremely disappointing situation. We are working closely with Northumbria Police and our own community safety team who are aware of the issues and are targeting resources to these areas."