CCTV cameras are to be trained on parks across the Dungannon District in a bid to deter vandalism and dog fouling.
Dungannon Council is currently operating CCTV cameras at Dungannon Park, which has been blighted by vandalism in the past, and is carrying out an audit before deciding whether or not to roll out the scheme to other parks in the district.
Footage from the cameras has already been used by the police in criminal investigations, it has emerged.
As well as Dungannon Park, vandalism hotspots include Castlecaulfield’s playpark and Round Lake, Fivemiletown.
Coucillors have expressed fears over the financial drain caused by the attacks, and the damage to the council’s reputation.
The council is also considering increasing staff numbers to monitor the parks and improve security.
UUP Councillor Walter Cuddy said he wanted to deliver a strong warning to troublemakers who are costing the council thousands of pounds annually by damaging local parks.
“We have a big problem with groups of people gathering and drinking alcohol at the council’s parks, and wrecking the facilities”, he said.
“They target a weak point in the play equipment and don’t rest until they have severely damaged it. They also smash bottles on the soft play areas, causing a hazard with broken glass.
“They are showing no consideration for young families who use the parks during the day.
“The repair work is a drain on council resources, and unless we do something to tackle the problem, the parks will have to be shut down.
“I am proposing that the council should have its own surveillance system rolled out to all the local parks. Not only would we catch the vandals, we would also deter irresponsible pet owners who allow their dogs to foul public paths, and people dropping litter.
“The technology has improved and the costs have come down to the extent that it would be economically viable, especially given the fact that we would be saving thousands of pounds in repair work.
“We have to protect our property and give a strong warning to these individuals.
“In addition, I am calling on local communities to support us by reporting the vandals. Even the most basic playparks cost in the region of £30,000, and these valuable resources will have to be moved out of estates if they are not looked after.”