POLICE are stepping up patrols to combat rival teenage gangs roaming the streets in parts of South Tyneside.
The action follows reports of groups of youths gathering in Cotswolds Lane in Boldon Colliery, and the Brockley Whins Metro Station, in Jarrow, at the weekend.
The groups, believed to be from the Hedworth and Boldon areas, are thought to have issues with each other, and regularly meet up, causing concern for worried parents.
The rivalry has even prompted hundreds of concerned parents to take to social networking site Facebook.
One group, called Make Boldon Colliery a Safer Place for our Children, has been set up and has already attracted just under 900 members.
On the site, people have told of being verbally abused by youths.
Others say they feel their children are unsafe, and one claims their youngster has even been approached by groups of youths armed with baseball bats.
Some members of the group say that they now dislike living in the once-quiet area.
Police from both Boldon and Jarrow are carrying out patrols in both areas in a bid to prevent any disorder before it starts, and move the groups on.
The action also forms part of the force-wide campaign tackling anti-social behaviour, called Put Yourself In Their Shoes.
Jarrow Neighbourhood Inspector, Ian King, said: “Extra officers will be on patrol in areas both on foot and bicycle.
“In this case, our increased patrols coincide with school holidays, when we often see a rise in youth disorder.
“However, should it occur after the holidays, our approach to tackle the problem will continue.
“We know it’s only a small number of individuals who are responsible for anti-social behaviour in these areas, but these incidents are affecting people’s quality of life and can have a negative impact on our communities.”
He added: “Officers will be taking appropriate action in relation to any youth disorder in the area.
“I hope residents will contact us over any issues so we can take steps to address them.”
People can call police on 101 ext 69191, or through the Northumbria Police website, www.northumbria.police.uk
For more information about policing in South Tyneside, follow @NPSouthTyneside on Twitter or like the Facebook page, wwww.facebook.com/NPSouthTyneside