OFFICERS are carrying out targeted patrols in Kempsey following reports of teenagers drinking and fighting in and around an alleyway.

PCSO Martin Butcher, of Kempsey & Alfrick Safer Neighbourhood Team, said residents have raised concerns about youths “congregating, fighting and behaving antisocially” in an alley near to McColls shop off Church Street.

He said: “The SNT is aware of the issue and has stepped up patrols of the area to reassure residents and deter ASB [anti-social behaviour].”

Vicar Mark Badger, of St Mary’s Church, believes the issue is down to the lack of activities for youths in the village – something he is aiming to resolve.

“The village is expanding and there’s very little for them to do in the area,” he said.

“It might seem we are very close to Worcester but if you have no transport it’s difficult to get there. Instead, they hang around in groups in the village.

“We have been going out and talking to some of the young people and asked what they would like in the village – and we’ve got some ideas.

“It’s making them feel respected and like adults, not like children or nuisances.

“They just want a space they can go and socialise with their friends so they are not hanging round dark alleyways which for some people is intimidating.”

The vicar emphasised they are “children of this community and we have got to provide something for them to do”.

He admitted while the church-run youth club on a Monday night is popular amongst younger children, the older teenagers “don’t want to come and play table tennis”.

Councillor Trevor Geens, chair of Kempsey Parish Council, said issues with antisocial behaviour are not a new problem in the village but “it’s not so bad as it was” a few years ago.

“This sort of thing goes in waves as children and young people grow up. We have had a little bit of an issue of late – there’s three or four young people who are troubled that the police know about and are talking to.”

He said the police and Malvern Hills District Council have had CCTV put up in the Rockies area of the village – known over the years to attract drug users – which “seems to have solved the problem”.

Cllr Geens said: “As a parish council, we have discussed at great length the fact there’s not much for children in the village and we are addressing that.”

He was keen to stress that some reports of anti-social behaviour had been exaggerated, and that: “People can safely walk the streets.”

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said he saw one youth “stoned out his brain” outside McColls last Tuesday, in the middle of the road, before a motorist helped him get to safety.