CRIMINAL damage and antisocial behaviour has fallen in a York park in the months following a decision to leave it unlocked overnight.

Concerns were raised by local residents when City of York Council decided last year to leave Hull Road Park open around the clock to cut costs.

However, new police figures show a reduction in antisocial behaviour since the changes were made.

Criminal damage fell by 40 per cent both in and outside the park between November 2013 and last month compared with the same period the previous year, and dropped 14 per cent on the three months prior to the overnight opening.

Jane Mowat, York council’s head of community safety, said the figures from North Yorkshire Police showed progress, but said the opportunity to lock the park overnight was still available if volunteers came forward.

She said: “North Yorkshire Police’s statistics show that reported crime and antisocial behaviour in the vicinity of the park is lower now than before November 2013 when we introduced the new system.

“We are still very happy though, to talk to any local voluntary groups interested in taking over locking and unlocking the park gates.”

During his regular webchat with the community this week, the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Dave Jones, addressed concerns from a member of the community who claimed there had been an “increase in low to mid-level antisocial behaviour in the Hull Road Park area”.

Mr Jones said the police and the council could only respond to incidents which had been brought to their attention, and encouraged anyone who had experienced antisocial behaviour in the park to report it to them.

The resident claimed he had seen “an increase of everything from litter to public drinking in the park, right up to fighting”, with reports of “noise ’til 4am” which was “lowering residents’ quality of life”.

Mr Jones urged residents to report any incidents and said police were working with City of York Council to monitor the area.

He said: “The local team are aware and do patrol the park when they are on duty, but at this time there has been no direction to increase extra patrols.

“Clearly, we can only respond to calls that we receive.

“If you witness or you are experiencing antisocial behaviour then please contact your local team or dial 101 to report the incident.

“This will assist the local team in understanding the issues and putting patrols in place when and where required.”