Councillors are asking for additional police officers and more CCTV cameras to be put in place following a surge in youth anti-social behaviour in their borough.

Ribble Valley Conservative councillors Ged Mirfin and Ricky Newmark raised the issue during a meeting of the borough council’s parish liaison committee at the end of June, only to reiterate the need for increased surveillance this week, following an incident in which teenagers caused damage to Whalley Abbey.

During the meeting, councillors spoke with the inspector for the Ribble Valley, Andy Ainsworth, and quizzed the new chief constable for Lancashire, Chris Rowley, over police funding for the area as well as the impact of the new rural taskforce.

Deputy chair of Whalley Parish Council June Brown asked whether the chief constable ‘supported the extension of CCTV across the Ribble Valley’ and how ‘he intended to work with parish councils to deliver improvements in CCTV coverage in villages like Whalley’ following a request to Ribble Valley Council for more cameras.

Mr Rowley said CCTV was a ‘cost effective tool’ for the prevention and detection of crime and would be supportive of attempts to deliver more extensive CCTV coverage across the Ribble Valley; while Insp Ainsworth stated one of his key priorities would be to ‘conduct an immediate evaluation of the borough’s existing CCTV to get a first hand view of its capabilities’, to recommend enhancements.

Chairman of Ribble Valley Council’s community services committee, Cllr Ricky Newmarket, who represents Sabden, welcomed any help the police could provide in improving CCTV coverage and the benefit that could be provided to police in supporting efforts to deter and fight crime through the use of such surveillance systems.

Cllr Mirfin, who represents Whalley and Painter Wood, supported the need for more CCTV and said there was still an existing gap in rural policing in the Ribble Valley, and more police were needed across their villages.

He said “Cllr Newmark’s comments have taken on an added urgency in Whalley following several instances of large scale anti-social behaviour on the Sands, in the Abbey, and in the centre of the village following the recent England football game.

“Whalley Parish Council submitted a request to Ribble Valley Council to upgrade its existing CCTV system, as well as more extensive coverage across an increased number of sites in seven additional locations across the village where anti-social behaviour is concentrated.

“Funding from the Safer Streets, Safer Towns and Safer Communities initiatives through the Home Office would have been beneficial, but the Ribble Valley had not been a successful recipient of such money.”

Following the incident at Whalley Abbey on Sunday, in which youngsters were caught climbing through windows, damaging the garden, smashing fences, trashing flowers and shouting obscenities, Reverend Adam Thomas, abbey boss, reported that for five nights out of the last nine, teenagers had been seen in the grounds, wreaking havoc and abusing him and his wife.

He said: “Our local police are excellent. But there just isn’t enough. They are stretched too thin. What’s next for us is CCTV and security in a place of worship and sanctuary.”

Residents reiterated Rev Thomas’ plea, and echoed the sentiments of the council, with one Facebook user commenting: “Cameras all over will put a stop to it.

While one resident angrily wrote: “Film them and stick it on social media. Shame them and let everyone see.

“Maybe get a picture of them and have it printed along with their parents. I’m sure that they would think twice about doing it again.”

Another wrote: “Anti social behaviour is all over our village. We need cameras everywhere. Get these kids before it’s any worse.”