RESIDENTS have expressed health and safety concerns over vandals exploring a derelict building.

The abandoned house on Butterwick Road in Sedgefield has been left with smashed windows the community claim to be from trespassers.

At a meeting of Sedgefield Town Council one woman claimed vandals were breaking in and taking valuables whilst lighting fires.

She said: "Somebody is going to get hurt, it’s about health and safety. We don’t even know who to report it to because nothing has been done.

"We’ve phoned the police a few times, but nothing has happened. They said they would sort it and make it safe but so far nothing."

Police confirmed they were called to reports of criminal damage at an address on Butterwick Road, Sedgefield on February 1 at about 3.30pm.

Once on scene, officers made a thorough search of the house under construction. They were unable to locate any recent damage to the property.

Inspector Alex Clarke, from Sedgefield Neighbourhood team said: "Anyone who has any concerns around anti-social behaviour or criminal damage should contact us on 101."

Stuart Timmiss, Durham County Council’s head of development and housing, said: "We appreciate residents’ concerns over the state of this site and have raised this matter previously with the developer. However, as the work carried out is in accordance with the planning approval, we have no legal power to compel the developer to complete the scheme.

"Nevertheless, we will be contacting the developer again about the site’s condition and encouraging them to make it secure to reduce the opportunity for trespass.

"We would also urge any residents who witness anyone breaking into the site or committing criminal damage to contact police."