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Gang of teenagers are “terrorising” residents of Sway as parish council and police vow to take action

Police patrols will be stepped up in Sway in an effort to tackle a gang of teenagers “terrorising” residents.

The group has smashed windows, vandalised gates, banged on doors and frightened drama students rehearsing in the village hall, with reports the teacher had to lock them in for protection.

Described by police as “low-level asbo”, the behaviour has been going on for weeks, and locals are demanding action.

Frightened students had to be locked in the village hall because of the gang
Frightened students had to be locked in the village hall because of the gang

A drama teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told how she had to lock her students in the hall after the teenagers targeted them.

She said: “They need to be stopped. They kept turning up to rehearsals just marching into the hall, shouting, banging on windows. They have no respect for authority so if you ask them to leave, they don’t care.

“I asked them to go, and they just carried on loitering about the entrance ignoring me. My students got so frightened I ended up locking us in so the youths couldn’t gain entry to the hall.

“But I shouldn’t have to do that. People in Sway shouldn’t be being terrorised by this gang. A lot of elderly people live here, and they are scared.”

It is believed the youths, which the teacher said appeared to be “under 16”, also targeted at least five businesses in the village along with residential homes.

Cllr Howard Millett says the parish council is "very concerned" about the gang's behaviour
Cllr Howard Millett says the parish council is "very concerned" about the gang's behaviour

Commenting online, one villager said: “They are terrorising Sway and need to be stopped.”

New Milton beat officer Sgt Arron Wood said he was aware of “low level asbo” behaviour in the village and told the A&T: “We are in communication with the parish council. If you don’t deal with this kind of behaviour it tends to escalate.

“I have two PCSOs who will be engaging with teenagers at a youth meeting, and we plan to have extra patrols in Sway. If we need to, we can also bring in dispersal powers like we did in Lymington.”

A spokesperson for Sway Parish Council said: “We are concerned along with many residents at the recent spate of anti-social behaviour around the village. The council has been in contact with the police and some residents to try to support any action that can be taken to deal with it.

“We have invited the police to attend out next meeting on the 25th January to hear residents’ concerns and update us, but we have not yet had confirmation that they can attend. We are also exploring how we might engage with youth workers to provide guidance and support to the village.”

Chair of SPC, Cllr Howard Millett, added: “The parish council is disheartened at the actions of a few young people who are having such an impact and causing anxiety to our residents. We will work with the police and other authorities, however we can, to help them resolve the matter.

“Our youth club, which was launched in November, goes some way to providing a place for young people to relax and engage positively, but of course we recognise that this has a limited impact as it is only once per week.”

He said that behind the scenes the council is “working hard” with police and others to “try and improve things”.

Cllr Millett urged those with CCTV or photos to share them with the police, but added: “Where minors are involved safeguarding issues are paramount.”

He said it was “really important” that incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported to the police adding: “Rest assured we, the council, are doing what we can.”

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