VILLAGE residents have expressed concern about what they say is an increase in nuisance crime in their area.

People in Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, say that incidents of vandalism and disorder have increased because of a lack of continuity with the police beat officers allocated to the village.

Concerns reached such a point that Great Lumley Residents' Association organised a meeting to discuss the situation with police officers.

Chester-le-Street District Councillor Audrey Willis, from Lumley, said: "We seem to get one beat officer, who builds up a rapport with the local teenagers, then he's called away, or gets promotion and we get another one.

"We've recently suffered a lot of damage, especially in the community centre and in the children's play area."

But Superintendent Peter Davis, divisional commander for Durham and Chester-le-Street, said they had already had meetings with the residents' association and parish council to discuss the issue.

He said one initiative being explored was the installation of a security camera in the village.

"I understand the residents' concerns, but we have gone to some lengths to tackle the problems, caused principally by a small but hardcore group of young people," Supt Davis said.

"We have also deployed the beat support unit from headquarters on two occasions and used our own local officers to tackle persistent off-road bikers.

"Together with Chester-le-Street District Council, we are putting together acceptable behaviour contracts for these young people.

"But no matter how much effort we all put in, at the end of the day we still need the parents of these young people to accept more responsibility for their conduct."

The meeting was held last night in Great Lumley Community Centre.