A WOODLAND den was dismantled by police officers and council staff following reports of drug use and illegal activity.

The camp at The Scrambles, in Belmont, was torn down by Durham Police and Durham County Council officers yesterday afternoon.

Durham City Police shared a Facebook post letting community members know the camp was dismantled.

The Northern Echo:

The post was met by criticism from residents and parents who questioned why the den was taken down.

A police spokesperson said: “Following our last post about the removal of the woodland camp at The Scrambles we would like to reassure you that we had good reason for dismantling this structure.

The Northern Echo:

“We had received numerous complaints of antisocial behaviour including some of underage drinking and drug taking and were asked by local residents to take action.

“We understand that most children enjoy playing outside and we would encourage this but, in this case, some youngsters have put themselves and others in danger.

“We have a duty to protect the public and keeping young people safe is one of our main priorities.”

The Northern Echo:

One angry resident took to Facebook to criticise the removal, they said: "Absolutely disgusting pulling it down! I loved making camps when I was a kid and encouraged and helped my sons to make one in our woods. They had so much fun building and playing in it. The good old days are long gone.”

Another added: "People complain that kids don't go out and play anymore but when they try to this happens. Some of my best memories as a child were making dens and playing in The Scrambles. Have people actually complained about the den?”

Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “We were asked by Durham Constabulary to accompany them in visiting the site of a den at Belmont Scrambles, where there have been previous reports of underage drinking, on Monday afternoon.

“Evidence of drug-taking and drinking was found, and our neighbourhood wardens worked with police to dismantle the den, to stop the site being used for illegal activity and to make the area safe for the many people who enjoy visiting The Scrambles.”