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Fears beauty spot is being used by sex groomers

MISSILE-wielding vandals and suspected groomers are blighting a popular beauty spot.

Police have pledged patrols at Keighley Tarn, to crack down on illicit activities at the hilltop haven.

It follows fears for the safety of young girls seen at the Black Hill Lane site with older men.

And yobs have been spotted hurling fireworks and other objects at wildlife.

Keighley West ward district councillor Cath Bacon said she had passed on concerns, raised with her by a resident, to the police.

Officers visited the tarn the same day.

“A resident told me about young people letting off fireworks at ducks and said that on another occasion – last week – when they’d gone up there they had seen younger girls with men who were substantially older than them,” said Cllr Bacon.

“It’s one thing when it’s consenting adults, but if it is a child safeguarding issue then I have a duty to pass that on. I’d sooner make an honest mistake than miss something which I should have flagged up.

“The police were extremely responsive. When I told them I’d received these concerns they went up to the tarn that same evening.

“I think the police team we have in Keighley at the moment is the most proactive that I’ve ever come across.”

Police Community Support Officer James Butterfield confirmed via Twitter that officers had visited the site, after being contacted by the councillor.

Keighley town councillor for Laycock and Braithwaite, John Kirby said problems with people using the tarn for criminal and anti-social behaviour dated back years.

“It’s a lovely area and it is to be enjoyed not misused,” he added.

“Plenty of people do use the tarn for completely innocent activities and go there to enjoy the view, but unfortunately it does also attract some of the wrong kinds of people as well. The police do send patrols up there, but they don’t have the resources to have a van there all the time. Sometimes you do get drug dealers in the area, and also joyriders who go over the ‘Yorkshire Bumps’ then cut down into Laycock.”

Keighley MP John Grogan said the police were proving themselves to be effective at dealing with incidents of anti-social behaviour quickly.

He added: “The best form of policing is nipping problems in the bud.

“Recently the police have taken action in both Holden Park at Oakworth and at Keighley Bus Station – and now at Keighley Tarn.

“The use of undercover police I think can make a particular difference.”

Town chaplain the Rev Dr Jonathan Pritchard, of United Keighley, said it was important for the community to keep restating its “shared distress” at any incidents of grooming.

“It is simply wrong for young people to be preyed upon,” he said.

“As our communities and the police stand united together, there will be fewer and fewer places where this vile crime can take place. Together, let’s make Keighley a place of hope for all of us.”

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