Police issue update on teenagers responsible for arson attack at Chesterfield beauty spot

Three teenagers have been referred to the Derbyshire Youth Offending Service after an arson attack at a beauty spot near Chesterfield.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 4:40 pm

In a crime which shocked many residents, a decking area was torched at the Avenue Washlands in Wingerworth on June 5.

Video which circulated on social media appeared to show youngsters allegedly starting a blaze.

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The Avenue Washlands after the blaze. Picture by Nick Rhodes.

Last month, Derbyshire Constabulary confirmed three teenagers had been voluntarily interviewed in relation to the fire.

Now, a force spokesperson has told the Derbyshire Times: “The three teenagers who were interviewed in relation to the arson incident at the Washlands have now been referred to the Derbyshire Youth Offending Service.

“This means that the case will now be referred to a Youth Offending Panel – where all options are still open, including sending the three to court.

“A decision will be made on each of the individuals involved separately and will be based on several factors – including the victims’ wishes, an important part of the youth offending panel procedure.

“The force has an obligation in law to not criminalise young people for first offences – and the Youth Offending Panels are well established process across the country, with the main objective being to prevent further offending.

“The panel involves volunteers from the local area, along with a professional youth offending specialist, and is a key part of ensuring that young people are helped back into the law-abiding community.

“Where young people are found to be repeat offenders, where intervention has not worked, then the Youth Offending Panel will not hesitate to send those individuals to court.”

Derbyshire County Council is responsible for the Derbyshire Youth Offending Service.

A council spokesperson said: “If any referral is made to the Youth Offending Service then we work with the young people involved to seek to prevent them from committing crimes in the future.”

Councillor Ross Shipman, leader of the Liberal Democrats on North East Derbyshire District Council, said he was ‘pleased to see that things are moving forward’.

He added: “We will need to wait to see what the outcome of the Youth Offending Panel is, but I am hoping that the outcome is proportionate to the damage caused by their actions.

“Maybe we will see them helping to rebuild the very thing they have destroyed, so they can appreciate the hard work that goes into providing these amazing facilities in our area.”

Coun Ross Shipman previously called for local authorities to fund ‘diversionary activities’ for young people.

Kate Lemon, regional manager for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said 40m of boardwalk, fishing platforms and fencing were destroyed in the arson attack.

She added: “The damage caused is considerable and is estimated to cost around £15,000 to repair.”

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteers have set up an online fundraising appeal to help pay for the repairs.

It started with a goal of £1,000 and has so far brought in nearly £5,000.

The Derbyshire Times has asked the trust for an update on the repair work but had not received a response by the time of publication.

After the blaze, a spokesperson for Wingerworth and Rural Police Safer Neighbourhood Team described the incident as ‘mindless’ vandalism.

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