A MEMBER of the public who called 999 after a group of youths refused to leave Barnoldswick Civic Hall was told he should have called the police non-emergency number.

When he got through on the 101 number, the operator said they did not know the town and asked for the postcode, the member of Barnoldswick Brass Band told the meeting of the West Craven Committee of Pendle Council.

The meeting heard the incident was part of on-going issues with two groups of young people in the town which had left some older people frightened to go out. It was agreed that in addition to ongoing work being undertaken by police carrying out a high-profile campaign, including the future possible use of dogs and the force's mounted section, steps should be taken to reopen a former youth centre in the basement of the town hall as part of improving facilities for younger people.

Pendle and Ribble Valley Police Inspector Claire Pearson told councillors and members of the public at the meeting that ringing the emergency 999 number was the correct thing to do, if there was a fear of violence.

She also acknowledged there could be a long wait in getting the 101 number answered and urged people to use the online form to report issues, which she said was easier and much quicker.

Insp Pearson went on to say they were aware of problems with youths in the town, and that progress was being made, with the help of parents in some cases, but she urged people to report all incidents after hearing one councillor say he had not reported something as he did not have the time to wait for a 101 call to be answered.

She said officers had been clamping down on anti-social behaviour in the town with both uniformed and plain clothes officers. As a result, incidents of anti-social behaviour had gone down from 46 in February, to 28 in March. She added she had also put in a bid for police dogs and mounted police to 'boost patrols'.

But, she said, they needed to look at other solutions, including working with parents and looking at youth provision in the area.

"A lot of these young people are not bad, they are bored, there is not enough for them to do," she said.

Cllr David Whipp said he was sceptical about a reduction in figures for anti-social behaviour because he for one did not have the time to call the 101 police number because of the length of time it took to be answered.

He added he had seen CCTV footage from the incident at the civic hall and believed it had been an emergency situation.

He continued the town council was investigating the reopening of the basement youth centre and also youth facilities at the New Road Community Centre in Earby.