'Irresponsible and illegal': Old Walsall police HQ being used as playground
Youths are putting their lives at risk by using the former Walsall police station as an unofficial playground, according to a police chief.
Chief Superintendent Andy Parsons, commander at Walsall Police, has said youngsters are putting themselves in danger by entering the dilapidated building on Green Lane.
Mr Parsons said: “I’m urging people to stay away from the building as it is extremely unsafe.
"Fortunately we haven’t received any reports of any injuries but I fear if this activity continues, it will only be a matter of time.
"We’re working with partners and have recently served a community protection warning notice on the land owner which gives them 28 days to re-secure the site.
“We’ve also spoken to the owner who has assured us that the site will be secured imminently.
“This behaviour is not only irresponsible but also illegal, we’ve increased patrols in the area in an effort to trace those involved.”
Police officers were moved out of the 36,500 sq ft building in October 2016 and the property is no longer owned by the West Midlands Police as it was sold in November 2017.
It was sold as part of the overall force estates strategy which earmarked buildings which were not fit-for-purpose and where savings could be made to help protect policing services in the future.
Police have been previously alerted to trespassers on the site, along with an arson attack, numerous metal thefts and sightings of teens riding bikes on the roof.
A 17-year-old was arrested on Monday on suspicion of burglary at the property, and was released pending investigation.
Officers from neighbourhood policing teams moved into Walsall Civic Centre in 2016 as part of a partnership with the local authority to allow partners to work even closer together.
Labour councillor Lee Jeavons, who represents Birchills Leamore, said youngsters should heed the police’s warning and avoid the site.
He said: “Any empty building could have dangers inside. It’s not advisable to go into there and since it’s private property, you will be trespassing.
“Please do not go in there because it’s a building the police abandoned because it was not safe for use and you don’t know what hazards are in there.
“I’ve not seen anything myself, but I’ve seen reports that there has been anti-social behaviour on the site. So my message to the owner is please secure your site.”
The owners were unavailable for comment. Anyone with information can call West Midlands Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.