More than 100 teenagers have been causing ‘chaos’ at the Camber in Old Portsmouth, with workers at the site admitting they’re ‘petrified’ of the yobbish behaviour on display.
Witnesses claim to have seen some of the youths drinking booze and taking drugs, while others have reportedly vandalised boats moored around the Camber.
And on Tuesday evening, events came to a head with dozens of youths reportedly running riot at the site.
One child was filmed scaling a 25ft crane and leaping into the water below in a move Hampshire Constabulary has branded ‘unacceptable and dangerous’.
The situation was so out of control that police had to be called in to disband the youths.
Tim Cox, a concierge at the nearby Ben Ainslie building, witnessed the carnage and called 999 after seeing teenagers leaping from the crane.
He said: ‘It’s lawless. Kids are smashing up boats and have kicked the doors in on one boat. They are just causing chaos.
‘Pretty much every day the sun is out there’s about 100 to 150 kids causing mayhem.
‘Every Monday we come in, it's just devastation everywhere. They have thrown an emergency life buoy in the sea and ripped taps on the pontoon out. We had racist graffiti sprayed on the concrete that we had to wash off.
‘They kick balls at people’s cars. I had to help a couple of ladies get their cars off the apron because they didn’t want to go through all the kids. They were petrified.’
Portsmouth City Council’s leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, branded the behaviour disgraceful but admitted it was a perennial problem.
He said council youth workers had been deployed to the Camber and nearby Hotwalls to tackle the antisocial behaviour.
He added the city was trying to work out how to tackle the problem by giving children an area on the coast where they can safely get their adrenaline fix of leaping into the sea.
A previous plan to fly a £70,000 floating play park from America never came to fruition, with Cllr Vernon-Jackson now revealing the city was looking at whether a safe diving area could be created as part of the island’s multi-million pound sea defences project.
He added: ‘This problem is nothing new. It’s been a point of conflict for generations. Some years there have been running battles with the police.
‘What I want the council to do is to have alternatives for other places to enable young people to do things that they want to do – jumping into the water while it’s hot.
‘It’s a problem that’s not winnable by policing; it's winnable by finding an alternative safer place for young people to be young people.’
Hampshire police said it disbanded the youths at 8pm. A spokesman added police had ‘robust’ plans to tackle tombstoning and said: ‘This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and very dangerous.
‘Despite the majority of people using our seafront sensibly, as we enter the summer season these types of incidents sadly increase. We urge members of the public to report incidents of antisocial behaviour like this to us so we can take action and make the area safe.’