MP Frank Field blames parents for 'yob culture' in Birkenhead

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Media captionLabour MP Frank Field went out on Friday after claiming the town was becoming "like Beirut" due to a failure to tackle "yob culture".

Parents are to blame for anti-social behaviour in Birkenhead, said the town's MP after joining police on patrol.

Labour MP Frank Field went out on Friday evening after claiming the town was becoming "like Beirut" due to a failure to tackle "yob culture".

Mr Field attended one incident in Shaw Street where a "gang was causing mayhem in the streets".

New legislation is needed "that warmly shakes them by the throat," he said.

"The parents don't care. They have no idea what they are actually doing to their kids. And that is going to take longer to deal with - we want to tackle it at root cause."

Mr Field patrolled the town centre with police and the leader of Wirral Council between 19:00 and 21:00 GMT.

'Angry and dispirited'

He heard from local people on the Woodlands estate who said they were "living in fear" of gangs of youths.

"In Shaw Street, we met residents who had just been on the receiving end of the gang causing mayhem in the streets and you could just see how angry and dispirited and weary people were that, yet again, this had occurred and yet again they get away with it."

Image caption Maureen Moore said residents were too scared to tackle the gangs

Resident Maureen Moore said: "You can't confront them because there are too many of them and it doesn't matter what their age is these days - you are too scared to say anything to them.

"Most of us are looking to move now. They are running us out of our own homes."

Ch Insp Nick Gunatilleke of Merseyside Police said anti-social behaviour in Birkenhead was one of their "chief priorities".

He said police had worked hard in partnership with Wirral Council but said he "recognised there was still a lot of work to do".

'Police powers'

Wirral Council leader Phil Davies said: "Antisocial behaviour is without doubt my number one complaint.

"I was very keen to see how the police operate on a normal Friday night.

"I think police do a great job with declining resources but residents want to know their complaints are being taken seriously, whether that is a police officer or a council official."

Image caption The leader of Wirral Council Phil Davies has promised to provide more facilities for young people

"We need to look at the fundamental causes of the problem and often these are to do with poor parenting so we have a responsibility as an education authority to provide all the help we can to young parents so they can bring them up responsibly."

He said the council is planning to build youth zones to provide sports and recreation facilities so "kids are not hanging around on street corners, up to no good."

"All the evidence really does show anti-social behaviour really does plummet when you have one of these facilities," added Mr Davies.

On Friday evening a group of teenagers in Birkenhead told Mr Field how there was nowhere for them to go in their town.

"We sit in the park," one said. "That's all we do. It's boring."

Speaking after the patrol, Mr Field said it had been a worthwhile experience.

"The immediate thing we want is powers of the police to be able to react as quickly as we saw the gangs moving around Birkenhead.

"So, instead of being behind the gang, we are in front of them."

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