Police have admitted that children as young as 12 are terrorising a popular UK seaside town whose residents say the gangs are like "packs of animals, baying for blood".
The Telegraph recently voted Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset somewhat of a super nightmare, dubbing it the UK's third worst seaside town. And despite its ability to pull in hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, the town is in the midst of escalating violence and disorder, according to locals.
The Sun spoke to a series of locals in the town who say the problems are worsening, with gangs featuring children as young as 10 running rampant in the centre. And one man, who opted to remain anonymous, told the publication that he was defending a young woman who was being targeted by a gang of 15 youths when he was attacked.
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The middle-aged local said: “It was about 4.30pm and the woman was wasted, very drunk, and, they were having a go at her and threatening, so I stepped in.
"They all circled me, like a pack of animals baying for blood. Then they beat me up pretty badly, and I could see one girl stood back, filming it on her phone."
He said the attack spilled over onto the town's famous beach where he had his face stamped on and where he was rendered unconscious when a vicious youth stood on his throat.
“I was in hospital for two days and still have the scars including a black eye, as well as the emotional trauma," he said, adding that children shoot fireworks through shop doors and letterboxes for sport.
Another local, called Elaine, 49, told the paper that "everyone is worried" about the gangs of yobs.
She said: "You don’t know whether they’re going to come towards you and what they might have on them, and they’re everywhere."
Former RAF and retired aerospace engineer Frank Bamford, 70, has lived in Weston for 53 years and even he admitted that the gangs are "intimidating".
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And it is not just clusters of children causing nuisance, as a county lines gang was sentenced to a total of 36 years in jail last month after their efforts to flood the town with drugs.
A cannabis farm worth £1million inside a disused pub was uncovered by police earlier this year, too. And even Avon and Somerset Police admitted the problem is spiralling.
They said in a statement: “Over the past few weeks, we have seen a significant rise in the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and associated offences involving young people in Weston-super-Mare town centre.”
One person commenting online said that they lived in the town in the 80s and recently revisited, to her dismay. "It seemed like every other shop was boarded up, or had been turned into some sort of bargain shop. So sad," she said.
One bloke even claimed he bought a house on the notorious Bournville estate only to sell it two years later and move back in with his parents.
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One young man who escaped to London wrote: "Every time I go back to visit my parents it just gets more depressing."
Sarah McConnell did point out that along with Torquay, the place is an "iconic English seaside town with so many happy memories for millions of people who have visited." She said neglect had seen Weston-super-Mare deteriorate.
But one tourist did not get the happy memories Sarah mentioned, when they visited last year. "The sea at best resembles a sepsis, dark brown slurry of mud – hardly what we were expecting as The English Riviera," the woman wrote on Tripadvisor in June 2023.
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