POLICE have cracked down on gangs of youths accused of throwing stones at windows and trampling on cars.

The crackdown came after residents reported 36 incidents of anti-social behaviour in the Hollymount area of Tolladine, in Worcester, within an 11 week period.

Police officers have had to secure dispersal orders - which allow them to move groups of youths on - in a bid to tackle the problems in Holly Mount, Holly Mount Road and an alleyway connecting Tunnel Hill with Rose Avenue.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: "The youths have been responsible for running over the roofs of parked cars, loitering in residents' gardens and throwing of stones at windows of residents."

The spokesman added that locals are also abused when they try to challenge the offenders' behaviour.

He said: "Police constables and police community support officers have attended the area and are often confronted with a group of youths, 10 or more.

"Because there is that many of them [they] are defiant and will not cooperate when asked to leave the area."

Councillor Paul Denham said one resident had to spend hundreds of pounds to repair his car roof after youths scaled his house and jumped on top of his vehicle a few weeks ago.

Cllr Denham, who serves as ward member for Rainbow Hill, has blamed cuts to youth centres, including the Tolly Hub, for the problems.

He said: "Enough is enough. Residents said it was absolutely dreadful. They told me it had been going on for weeks.

"It had been worse during the school holidays. A number of us have been saying fewer and fewer youth activities are available across Worcester.

"It probably has a greater impact in areas of deprivation. Kids have nothing else to do.

"They used to have lots of activities at the Tolly centre. I'm sure that reduced the problems."

Cllr Denham said parts of Tolladine are some of the most deprived areas of the country, with low economic wealth and high unemployment rates.

He called on the county council to boost funding for council-run activities.

Helen Scarrett, head of Worcester Community Trust, said there were fewer open youth sessions at the Tolly Hub since cuts in 2015.

She added that anti-social behaviour increased around the Trust's centres after the cuts but had dropped back down to normal levels since the summer.

She said: "We are not currently experiencing the sort of issues that the Hollymount area is."

The police issued the dispersal orders on the third and fourth weekends of September under section 34 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The orders were limited to a 48-hour period and gave police officers the power to command people to leave the area if they were in groups of two or more.

The 36 anti-social incidents took place between Thursday, July 1, and Saturday, September 16.

Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member with responsibility for children and families, said: "Anti-social behaviour is best addressed by a joined up response involving service providers, Police and Community Support Officers, community safety officers and the community itself.

"This has happened successfully before, including in Tolladine, with Worcester Community Trust has playing its part and is even more important when there is pressure on resources for all involved.

"The County Council has continued to invest in positive activities for young people, which can play an important part in the local response.

"Worcester Community Trust is our commissioned provider in the City due to its ability to reach those communities where issues such as this are more prevalent."