HOODED youngsters have been blamed for a spate of anti-social behaviour in Abbey Meads village centre.

And one resident hit out at the Wiltshire Police non-emergency response line, saying he feels “like an idiot” calling the 101 number.

The man, 47, who asked not to be named, said: “We’re getting gatherings of youths in at Abbey Meads centre on a nightly basis. There are 10 people upwards.

“There’s a little grassed area and they are trashing it. They are just generally being a nuisance. They shout and hurl abuse at people.

“You don’t know what they’re carrying.”

The problem began around three weeks ago, he said. The group gathered between around 6.30pm and 9.30pm, was aged around 14 to 17 and predominantly consisted of boys.

The man had called the non-emergency 101 police line a number of times having been advised to dial when the youths were gathering and acting anti-socially – but not necessarily committing crime.

He had now given up dialling: “You’re made to feel like an idiot for calling because there’s nothing going on at that time.”

He added: “I’m not going to ring through again because you feel guilty for ringing.”

Asked what message he had for local police chiefs, the man replied: “What can you do? There are no resources.

“The local police have been extremely good. The issue is the call centre.”

Police said they were speaking to schoolchildren in the area with a view to directing local parish council spending on youth projects aimed at keeping youngsters on the straight and narrow.

PC Keith MacDonald, a community co-ordinator for north Swindon, said: “We are currently engaging with local schoolchildren to see what youth services they would like to see in the area, so the local parish councils can then spend available fund on projects that would be welcomed and used in the community.”

The officer added of complaints about the 101 line: “We always encourage residents to report concerns or suspicions to us, especially around anti-social behaviour, as we need to be able to build up a picture of what is happening in their area.

“Obviously our 999 number is there to report emergencies or crimes in progress, but there are a number of ways in which people can report non-urgent matters.

“These include the 101 number, our social media pages, and also the Community Policing Team email addresses – which can be found on the force website.

“Our email inboxes and social media accounts are not monitored 24/7 but if the matter is not urgent and sent to advise us of an activity that is now becoming a regular occurrence, it will be noted and contact made with the resident through this format.”