POLICE patrols will be carried out near a woodland where up to 70 youths are gathering at weekends, with some of them drinking alcohol there.

Youth-related anti-social behaviour in Dunbar was a problem last year and a special group was formed to tackle the issue in the park at Ashfield and nearby Lochend Woods.

Police officers worked along with other organisations to stamp down on the problem, following reports of underage drinking, vandalism and fires there.

Now PC Gavin Ross, who is based in the town, has highlighted that the problem has reared its ugly head again.

He said: “We worked really hard on youth issues after it escalated in November.

“We had a lot of youths coming into the town and it has been well documented and we got those numbers right down.

“Youths stopped coming from out of town into Dunbar but it is a different problem now that it is nicer evenings. They are going into a semi-rural bit of woodland beside the primary school [Dunbar Primary School’s Lochend campus].”

The officer stressed that the youths, who ranged in age from 13 to 17, were mostly well behaved but there were issues surrounding underage drinking and littering.

The issue is focused upon a section of the woodland known as the Jam Pot, with underage drinking on a Friday evening.

He added: “The numbers are quite big. There are 60 to 70 youths and we will keep an eye on it.

“We will encourage them to stay on top of litter and will stay on top of them to prevent them from having alcohol.

“There is also the annual Bullet Hill party at the end of the exams. We are watching it and that is one to be monitored.”

PC Ross stressed the issue was mainly related to alcohol rather than drugs and said there were steps being taken already to try to cut off the alcohol supply.

He said that officers would be linking in with licensed premises but acknowledged it was occasionally bought for those involved by other people or parents.

The Community and Police Partnership (CAPP), which is chaired by PC Ross, made the issue one of its priorities for the coming weeks.

The idea of resurrecting the Problem Solving Partnership (PSP) was also considered.

Police previously worked alongside East Lothian Council, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the local area partnership and councillors to address the issue.

Officers and community wardens targeted the affected areas with enhanced high-visibility patrols, including the use of the council’s CCTV van, and worked with local schools in sending out the message that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

The PSP would allow the ringfencing of officers to head to the area at particular times.