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Derelict Sunderland police station ‘used as playground’ | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


6 hours ago

Image source, BBC/Jim Scott

Image caption,

Fencing has been pulled down allowing easy access to the former Northumbria Police station

An abandoned police station on a Sunderland housing estate has become a playground for children, say locals who fear someone could eventually be hurt or killed there.

The derelict shell in Farringdon has been hit by fires and, according to a local councillor, contains asbestos and weak concrete, along with the sort of dangerous debris usually associated with crumbling buildings.

Almscliffe Dhesi Developments has been given permission to demolish the site to build a retail park, but work is yet to begin.

The BBC found a lack of security at the site, with metal safety fencing torn down in parts, leaving it easy to access.

The developer has been approached for comment, while authorities continue to urge youngsters to keep away.

Image source, BBC/Jim Scott

Image caption,

James McDonald says the site has been left derelict for a number of years

But it has fallen into disrepair over the years, with locals saying it has become a playground and magnet for anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and arson.

“What is the reason it just stands, why was it not pulled down and taken away?” asks James McDonald, who lives in nearby Thorney Close.

“It’s been a hang out, (people) have apparently been living in there… we don’t go near it.

“You’ve seen better stuff during the war than this, but this is absolutely ridiculous.”

Last year, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) crews had to tackle a major blaze on the upper floors of the building.

But since August, 12 fires have been reported at the premises, three of which took hold inside the building.

Evidence of those fires is still visible, between the overgrown shrubs, graffiti-covered walls and smashed windows.

Image source, BBC/Jim Scott

Image caption,

The building has been vandalised and set on fire

One Farringdon local admits he used to go in the building when he was younger, but says people going inside is now a “daily occurrence”.

He says the building has been left exposed, with no apparent patrols and security fences left pulled down.

“It’s easy enough to properly secure a site, with the type of funding that’s getting put in to this site you’d think they could do that.

“When the kids get hurt and that site is liable, maybe then they’ll secure it properly.”

‘Absolutely phenomenal’ risk

Northumbria Police, which is no longer responsible for the building, says it is aware of recent anti-social behaviour at the site, mainly involving young people gathering with friends.

The force says it is carrying out regular patrols to “address pockets of disorder” and to help “ensure that people in the community are safe”.

Image source, BBC/Jim Scott

Image caption,

Councillor Phil Tye says floors and ceilings have collapsed inside the building

But the building has become the “biggest single issue” in the area, says Silksworth councillor Phil Tye, who also chairs the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority. He is desperate to see it pulled down.

The risk to people both inside, and out, is “absolutely phenomenal”, he says before listing issues of asbestos, sharp objects and weakened concrete.

“In 2016 I said if the building wasn’t boarded up and made more secure we would lose a child, and that’s always been my fear and will continue to be my fear until that building comes down.

“There are floors that have collapsed and ceilings that have collapsed, probably a consequence of fire damage.”

Plans show a large shop, several smaller retail units and a drive-thru coffee shop to be eventually built in its place.

Image source, BBC/Jim Scott

Image caption,

The developer is facing calls to install security until the building is demolished

Mr Tye is calling on the developer to ensure the site has “24-hour security on until this is resolved, until it comes down”.

“We’ve said all this time, the risks are there and really high, we could just walk into there. Clearly we won’t because even the risks outside are high; there’s asbestos around and it’s just not a good place to be.”

Sunderland City Council say they are aware of the concerns and that “owners and developers have legal responsibilities to safely maintain their sites and properties”.

It says that ecological surveys, permits and licenses in relation to the redevelopment of the site were “being addressed”.

‘Extreme state of disrepair’

In the meantime, Sgt Natalie Orton is echoing warnings that there is a “great safety risk” with bricks and rubble at the “significantly deteriorated” building.

“We recognise that we are talking about a minority of young people who are involved but I would ask parents and carers to work with us as we tackle anti-social behaviour and speak to children about where they are heading, what they are doing and the potential consequences of getting mixed up in this type of activity,” she says.

“I’d also like to remind anyone considering a visit to the site that it is private land and trespassing is a criminal offence.”

Farringdon Community Fire Station manger Scott Wilson adds: “We are aware of ongoing problems with antisocial behaviour and deliberate fire setting at the old Farringdon Police Station.

“The building is in an extreme state of disrepair due to being derelict for a number of years and there are significant health and safety risks when you enter.

“We are working closely with our partners and the developers to ensure the site remains secure until the regeneration of the site commences.”

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