Burnley urban farms frustration at police

DEEP DISMAY: James Horsford
DEEP DISMAY: James Horsford

Angry bosses of a Burnley urban farm vandalised by yobs have criticised police for not taking action over suspects caught on CCTV.

Leaders of the Pennine Lancashire Community Farm captured pin-sharp images of four males suspected of ripping polytunnels apart and taking drugs on the March Street site last month.

Police said a number of youths have been spoken to over the criminal damage – but admitted despite the CCTV footage, no charges can be brought because of insufficient evidence. James Horsford, manager of PLCF, has been left bitterly disappointed that no punitive action could be taken.

He said: “Police firstly prevented us from publishing or distributing the images of the individuals suspected of being involved in both damaging the newly covered polytunnel and taking drugs whilst inside.

“This was on the grounds that the individuals were potentially under 18, however the police officer involved was unwilling to provide reassurance concerning the method used to ensure the ages having been robustly checked.”

The March Street farm, which helps hundreds of disadvantaged people in the town, has been a repeated target for vandals wreaking thousands of pounds worth of damage.

But bosses felt police were “extremely nervous” about taking positive and robust steps to deal with clear issues of drug taking and the associated vandalism in this location of Burnley.

Boss Mr Stewart Bone said: “We do not seem to be able to develop effective partnership working with the police in this area, despite an number of attempts.”

A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said: “There is currently insufficient evidence to charge anybody in connection with this offence. If anybody has information about the damage they are asked to call police on 101.”