AROUND 70 teenagers were sent home on the bus by police after arranging to meet to go drinking in a town centre.

The teens from Durham had used social media site Snapchat to arrange to travel to nearby Houghton-le-Spring.

It is the latest incident of anti-social behaviour that has been affecting the town in recent months.

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On Wednesday, police had to issue a number of dispersal orders to break up the group of around 70 young people before accompanying them on the next bus home.

Northumbria Police says it is the latest example of proactive policing which has seen a “dramatic” reduction in reports of antisocial behaviour in Houghton.

Superintendent Steve Heatley said: “This is another great example of us taking a robust approach to anti-social behaviour in Houghton.

“The issues we were having there were very high profile and caused a lot of distress for local residents in the area.

“However, neighbourhood officers covering the area have been very proactive and adopted a zero tolerance approach to large groups of teens gathering in the town centre.

“Together with the local authority, local businesses and residents we can make Houghton a safer place to live and work.”

Police have had to step up patrols in recent months to deal with a spike of reports of antisocial behaviour, which have includes “missiles”, including bottles, being thrown at bus windows causing them to shatter.

There have also been reports of vandalism at bus shelters and youths cycling in front of buses to cause disruption.

In November some buses had to be diverted from the town centre because of the problems.

Some local people have also reported being verbally abused and spat at, while shopkeepers have had shutters damaged and daubed in graffiti.

Officers have also been going into schools in the area to talk to young people and plain clothed officers have been travelling on buses to prevent disorder.

Anyone who wants to report issues of anti-social behaviour should call police on 101 or report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk/contact/