DURHAM Police are urging young people to heed government advice and stay home after a series of antisocial behaviour offences at the weekend.

Several neighbourhood police teams in County Durham were called to multiple reports of antisocial behaviour caused by large groups of teenagers. The teenagers were congregating outside in open areas and drinking.

In Weardale a group of youths were found and chased by police after drinking and congregating near Tunstall reservoir at the weekend. A police spokesperson said: "The environment is cold, pitch black and near a reservoir and a river and could lead to a potentially dangerous situation at a time when emergency services are being stretched, please think about your actions."

Stanley Police reported two incidents involving groups of youths. A group of 30 youth gathered in the Dipton area. The youths were drinking alcohol, smashing bottles and acting in an antisocial manner.

In the South Moor area, police attended an incident in which a group of over 25 youths were drinking and setting fire to wheelie bins in Pinies Woods on Hustledown Road, South Moor - fire crews were required to attend.

During these incidents, criminal damage and arson occurred and police said they will be taking appropriate action.

Newton Aycliffe Neighbourhood Police Team seized a large quantity of alcohol from local youths as part of an ongoing operation to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Bishop Auckland’s Neighbourhood Police team also reported a number youths gathering in large groups acting antisocially and drinking alcohol.

A police spokesperson said: "Please assist emergency services by safeguarding your children at home and not allowing to them to gather in large groups causing issues for the emergency services.

We urge all parents and guardians to know the whereabouts of their children in an attempt to maintain their own health and safety and the health and safety of their local community. We want to avoid putting extra strain on the emergency services which are already very busy dealing with other issues.

"We would like to remind people to avoid congregating in large groups and advise against all non-essential travel due to the increased risk of spreading the virus. We are urging those to follow government advice and stay at home."