Three police officers and a patrol car rush to… children playing football in the street
(DAILY MAIL) Police were accused today of being ‘heavy handed’ after three officers were dispatched to issue a ticking off to two boys – for playing football in the street.
Henry Worthington, 12, and his brother Alex, 11, were told their kick-abouts in a cul-de-sac outside their home after school were illegal and could result in them getting anti-social behaviour orders.
Their father Anthony, 43, of Timperley, Greater Manchester, was also sent a letter from officials at Trafford Council warning him his two sons could be in breach of the 1980 Highways Act which outlaws ball games.
The incident comes after Greater Manchester Police revealed it was preparing to cut more than 3,000 jobs due to the government’s anticipated 25 per cent cut in spending.
Today, Mr Worthington, an engineer, said: ‘Sending three officers over simply to give a warning about kids playing football in the street is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
‘My boys are not hooligans. They are good lads who cause no trouble and I prefer them to play outside the house so I know they are safe. They haven’t interfered with a car or any pedestrians so I don’t see what the problem is.
‘They play for a local football club on the weekend and they just want to practise their skills outside their house with their friends. It’s not as if they’re out all hours 24/7, it’s just half an hour after school.
‘I’m absolutely appalled that the police are not out there catching real criminals. I feel like my family is being persecuted.
‘When I was a lad the police were not out persecuting children for playing football. Now you get three policemen coming to my door to tell us off for it.
‘It’s a joke-and a total waste of police resources given that they are facing massive cuts.
‘At this rate the England soccer squad will never get better if the future team can’t practise playing football anywhere.’
Trouble began three months ago when Manchester City fans Henry and Alex both began playing football in the street while the World Cup was in progress.
Mr Worthington added: ‘It’s a quiet street, and we live on the corner of a close. They’ve been playing out since the year dot, and since they’ve got a bit older they’ve started playing football.
‘About three months ago, the boys got stopped by officers driving a patrol car up the street and they told them not to play football in the street. A few weeks later they came round to my house.
‘The first time there was only one uniformed officer, in his patrol car. He was polite and just said it’s against the law to play football in the street and that they were monitoring the situation.
‘I thought fair enough, I’m not going to argue with a police officer, but I did say I couldn’t see why it was a problem when it is a quiet street.
‘Apparently it is illegal under the Highways Act 1980. I told the boys not to play, but the other kids on the road are still playing, and from the next road so it’s the same situation for them.
‘Then three officers turned up. One stayed in the patrol car and the other two came to my door. I couldn’t believe it. They have always been very polite, and I told them that I had asked the boys not to play in the street.
‘Two weeks ago I had a letter from the council regarding street football outlining what anti-social behaviour is and referring to an on-going problem regarding street football.
‘It also talked about section 161 of the Highways Act 1980. But I don’t see how it is anti-social behaviour. I feel the police and the council have been very heavy handed, and that they are not using their common sense at all.
‘It is not like my lads are out 24/7 and it’s not like they’ve kicked a ball at a pedestrian or at a car. There are areas where we could take them to play but you can’t take them all the time when it’s only going to be for half an hour.’
Inspector Simon Wright from Greater Manchester Police said: ‘Playing football in the road obviously has clear dangers and the man in this case was simply reminded of this by officers looking out for his children’s safety.
‘It is actually a criminal offence and is often perceived as a nuisance to local residents, especially as there are plenty of parks for the children to go and play in a safe environment.
‘I am not aware of a complaint being made to police but would be more than happy to discuss any concerns the father has with him.’
He added: ‘I think the police action amounted to common sense. You should not let your kids play on the road – it is not a playground.’
Jonathan Coupe of Trafford Council said: ‘Anti-social behaviour is defined as any behaviour that causes alarm or distress to another person.
‘In this particular case a letter has been sent to the parents to explain that a complaint has been received about their child’s behaviour with a request to address the issues outlined in the complaint.
‘This is in no way a formal warning or prosecution. Through action such as this, issues can be resolved in an appropriate manner through the parents themselves without having to involve the authorities.’