ALMOST 50 unruly children have been banned from libraries and leisure centres in the town in the past three years.

The figures released by Swindon Council show that between 2008-2010, 29 youngsters, some as young as 12, have been banned from the town’s libraries and 18 from its leisure centres.

The bans, some of which are indefinite, have been slapped on the yobs for being abusive to staff, criminal behaviour, fighting, swearing and dangerous behaviour.

One incident, which happened in a North Swindon library last year, was so bad that the police were called and the three culprits, aged between 14 and 16, were given life-long bans.

But, the true picture could actually be much worse as some libraries work with Wiltshire Police to contribute evidence to enable anti-social behaviour orders, which includes being banned from the library, but these are not recorded by the council.

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We do not hand out bans lightly and they are usually imposed following repeated anti-social behaviour by a very small minority of library users.

“Anyone who is found to be behaving in an inappropriate manner receives an initial warning letter and, if the person is under 16, this letter is sent to their parents.

“If the behaviour persists, a formal letter banning the individual is sent out. In some cases, if the individual is under the age of 16, the ban is imposed with the full agreement and co-operation of the parents.

“The length of the ban is determined by the individual library manager, but is sometimes agreed following police advice as many of the people who are handed bans are also involved in anti-social behaviour in the local area.”

The statistics were supplied under a Freedom of Information request that the Adver made to Swindon Council.

The request revealed that 18 children aged between 12 and 17 have been banned from council-run leisure centres in the town and that the Link Centre in west Swindon has the highest number of bans out of all of the leisure centres in Swindon.

The hotspots for anti-social behaviour in libraries are those based in North Swindon – which include Moredon library, Even Swindon library, Penhill library, and North Swindon library.

Between 2008-2010, 18 youths aged between 12 and 16, have been banned from these libraries.

Following these, the new Central Library has had to ban nine members of the public, aged between 15 and 50.

In the same period, Liden library has banned two teens for six months for repeated bad language and disruption.