Vandalism and anti-social behaviour at Waringstown Primary School may “escalate” over the summer holidays, police have warned.
In recent months, the school has been spending amounts from their “ever-decreasing” budget repairing and replacing damaged and stolen property.
There have been reports of children not only playing football on the school grounds, but climbing on the roof, breaking windows and committing other acts of “mindless destruction”.
On Monday (June 26), Banbridge Neighbourhood Policing Team in conjunction with the PCSP officially launched the Waringstown Primary School School Watch scheme.
Police have appealed for the public to report all trespassers at the school immediately and have asked parents to speak to their children to stop them entering the school grounds after hours.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “Valuable resources which should be used to educate our children are being diverted to combat vandalism.”
They added: “The damage has been getting worse recently and we fear that as the school term comes to a close, the situation is only going to escalate over the summer months.”
In a letter sent to residents in the area, the PSNI said: “You as a local resident have a crucial role to play in the safeguarding of your local school. The school grounds are private property and I would ask that you would report all trespassers climbing fences, climbing on roofs etc immediately to police.
“No one has permission from the school to use the football pitches after school hours and we are finding that whilst young persons might initially enter the school with the innocent intention of playing football, on a weekly basis these same young persons are going on to mindlessly destroy school property.”
In a post on social media, Waringstown Community Development Association described the behaviour as “awful”.
They said: “Awful to hear that our local primary school is experiencing vandalism and theft from groups of young people trespassing outside school hours. Please share this post and raise awareness of this problem and help to stop it by reporting to the police.”
This spate of vandalism is just the latest in a recent trend that has driven many residents to their wits’ end.
In April, Armagh I reported that a recently restored cottage on the Waring estate had been a target, with vandals damaging two windows in the property.
Just a number of weeks later in May, ten mature trees were chopped down in the village.