GANGS of youths who set fireworks off at a Wigan fire crew and attacked police officers have been blasted as “idiots” by an emergency service chief.
In two nights of carnage that have shocked Ashton residents, the senseless violence included a brick being thrown through a glass bus shelter and several wheelie bins being set alight near to Jubilee Park.
Four arrests were made on Sunday night after police officers were pelted with missiles as panicked residents called 999 after viewing a firework being slotted into a postbox by youths.
Fire chief Steve Sheridan said Monday night’s attack on his crew represented an “escalation” in what has been a series of anti-social behaviour chaos in recent weeks.
He said: “Fireworks were thrown at one of our crews that were there to put out a fire that had been started by the gang.
“That is totally unacceptable. We are lucky in Wigan in that the vast majority of residents show a lot of respect to emergency crews. But this is a small number of idiots causing problems recently.”
Mr Sheridan added that the incident would be taken “very seriously” by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service who would not hesitate to bring prosecutions against those responsible.
Concern has been growing in Ashton about the congregating youths with neighbourhood policing teams appealing for information about several incidents.
Houses and moving vehicles have been targeted by youngsters throwing eggs while two vehicles on Wotton Drive had paint poured over them last week.
The spike in ASB incidents has resulted in one local resident calling for emergency measures to be enforced.
Michael Moulding said: “These gangs of youths are causing mayhem, in particular around Jubilee Park in the evenings, causing misery for local residents.
“I witnessed them on Monday, scarves around their faces and hats on, just their eyes visible, they were clearly causing trouble.
“I am in no doubt an increased police presence is required and a temporary curfew could be in place making the park an exclusion zone after 8pm. More needs to be done to stop this problem for local residents.”
Insp Glenn Jones of Wigan Police moved to reassure residents that action was being taken to tackle the spate of incidents.
He told the Evening Post: “We are doing everything we can to prevent this escalating any further. There will be an increased police presence and we will be using additional resources during this difficult period around Halloween. Our PCSOs will be going into local schools to warn youngsters of the danger of being involved in this kind of inappropriate behaviour.
“Because of the location of the park, with its many exits and because it is not lit up at night, it has been difficult to patrol but we are aware that this escalation over the last few nights is a serious cause for concern.
“We are reliant on residents to make us aware of when these incidents are occurring and would urge people to report any non-emergency ASB incidents to our 101 number and also any immediate threats to public safety by dialling 999.”
Borough commander Sheridan added that parents have a responsibility to know what their children are doing in the evenings.
He said: “If kids are coming back smelling of smoke, questions should be asked.”
The incidents have prompted an inter-authority response with Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust liaising with neighbourhood teams.
A WLCT spokesman said: “We would like to reassure residents that this is being taken extremely seriously. Any attack in our parks is completely unacceptable.”