Council and Police Take Action on Freerunners in Moreton

Over the last 12 months the urban sport of Freerunning (Parkour) has grown and grown, nothing wrong with that many will  say, including me, however a group of Freerunners in Moreton have been creating damage to Council buildings, as well as other buildings as a result of practicing their sport in our Town.   Many people say that the Moreton group, by their actions, are giving the sport of Parkour a bad name!

The Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team and the Police have tried to engage with the Moreton group, sadly without much success.   So today, after months of problems and continuing damage to buildings, the Council and the Police working together delivered a letter and a leaflet to local residents and the freerunners.  You can read the contents of those publications by clicking here 

Now don’t get me wrong I am all for promoting activity that teaches people, particularly youths a discipline, however that must be done on a site(s) where freerunners can practice safely, not cause nuisance to residents, not cause damage to public buildings and not face enforcement action.      Hopefully the letter and the warning will have the desired effect, and this group will work with others, the Council, the Police and other agencies to determine what is and is not acceptable, and ultimately to find a suitable site, and I will do all I can to help with that.   Until then Freerunning is not on the menu in Moreton.

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4 thoughts on “Council and Police Take Action on Freerunners in Moreton

  1. Just to outline to everyone that is involved and interested in this matter that the issue in Moreton is not fault of the practitioners of Parkour and/or Free Running. The problems are being caused by a group of youths damaging property and being disrespectful to both the authority and the public, this group is of no relation to the practitioners here in Moreton and are simply being labelled ‘free runners’ because they tend to clamber onto rooftops were they’re causing damage. To blame this on the free running community is both outragious and unfair. The council and the community have made no effect to engage with the parkour practitioners to find out what the actual cause of these problems and apparent assocaited ‘anti social behavior’ if they had made a preemptive decision to first enquire as to who was making the actual damage they would understand that the release of such a ‘ban’ is really far from the appropriate action that needed taking.

  2. Dear Cllr Blakeley

    We accept that the ASB and damage to property is almost certainly not the fault of the ‘true’ Parkour practitioners and there are other young people who are engaging in the sport element but engaging also in ASB.

    The police and Wirral Community Patrol Officers have regularly and repeatedly asked the young people to not climb on the buildings; I consider this to some extent to be engagement. The Council and other agencies have been working closely with representatives from the Parkour community since Autumn 2008 to work through the issues and support and develop the sport in Wirral. We have and continue to work alongside members of the British Parkour Coaching Association, TRACE and Movement Matters.

    I met separately with two of the Moreton practitioners on 22 July and conducted a further Parkour Steering Group on 28 July. I have suggested that the practitioners outline their requirements and we start the debate about ‘authorised’ sites. In addition, in September 2009 we are looking to co-ordinate a meeting between practitioners and local residents and ward councillors/MP to address the issues in the Moreton area specifically.

    From a practical point of view, the perception rightly or wrongly is that freerunners are causing the damage and are responsible for the ASB. The police cannot reasonably be expected to differentiate between who is ‘ok’ and who isn’t and therefore there was no option other than to impose a ban. The bottom line for me is it has been made very clear to ‘true’ practitioners and freerunning wannabees in the area that climbing on the buildings in Moreton is not permissible and this has regrettably not be adhered to.

    As you know, we continue to support Parkour and its practitioners, but together with Merseyside Police have regrettably had to take the action we have to support and protect the wider community in Moreton.

  3. Caroline, many thanks for your comments. Nick looks like engagement to me, and a reasonable stance to take. It is certainly one I am happy to support. I am also happy to be involved in any meetings that lead to a satisfactory solution to this issue. That is something that clearly the Council and the Police want to achieve. What about you Nick?

  4. Chris, Caroline – thank you both for taking the time to respond.

    With regards to Carolines comment ”there are other young people who are engaging in the sport element but engaging also in ASB.” this is still far from what’s really happening which i have tried to point out on several occasions, the youths climbing onto roof tops and causing damage are not engaging in the physical/sport elements of parkour/free running. They’re simply clambering onto rooftops and messing around often causing damage and distress which, as i have pointed out in previous meetings this kind of behavior has happened for for centuries. People have always climbed onto rooftops, people have always vandalised, people have always graffitied and damage to property has been an issue in Moreton since well before ‘free running’ even came to exist.

    What the council and merseyside police both need to understand and accept is that just because a small minority of youths are damaging property does not give them the right to instantly point blame at the free running community. If an assault takes place on the Football fields of Lingham Park in Moreton you would not act first by banning Football, as the only association it has with Football is that it has taken place in an area in which practitioners of Football do their training.

    Nobody, council or police has ever tried to engage with myself and the members of parkours community to address the issue and at no point has there been any effort to find out what the root of this problem really is. If this had been done preemptively to this ‘ban’ now in place we could have easily came up with a solution together and resolved these issues in the Moreton area. The only efforts of engagement from the council have been with a business based in Manchester (British Parkour Coaching Association & TRACE) now to assume that this would by any means help the situation in Moreton is far from logical thinking. If only there had been an effort made to engage with Moretons Parkour community it would have been outlined from the beginning who was causing the damage and the problems and saved alot of time, money and inconvenience for all parties.

    ”The Council and other agencies have been working closely with representatives from the Parkour community since Autumn 2008 to work through the issues and support and develop the sport in Wirral.”

    As stated above, no council or agencies has approached us as a Parkour community or worked with us in developing the sport. We have never been asked to select a respresentative for our parkour community and who ever it is that Caroline is refering to definitely does not speak for the parkour community in Moreton/Wirral.

    Again i quote Caroline – ”From a practical point of view, the perception rightly or wrongly is that freerunners are causing the damage and are responsible for the ASB.”

    This brings me back to my point that not only do the ASB Team not understand what is and who are the problem, they are unwilling to listen to those who know what is genuinally happening. The accusation of a free runner causing ‘ASB’ is a complete fabrication and has no evidence what so ever to justify it, these accusations are hollow and until there is proof that there are GENUINE members of the free running community taking part in ‘ASB’ there is no reason for any ban to be in place. To my knowledge there has never been a parkour practitioner arrested, let alone convicted for damage to property in the Moreton area.

    ”As you know, we continue to support Parkour and its practitioners, but together with Merseyside Police have regrettably had to take the action we have to support and protect the wider community in Moreton.”

    This again is another hollow statement and after discussing this with the parkour community of both Moreton and the Global parkour community to put in place such a ban and claim to ‘support parkour’ is scandalous, you suggest that you support and back the idea of parkour yet you have no actual understanding of what Parkour is so to even suggest you support something you do not understand is again illogical nonsense.

    Chris, i am more than willing to meet with you to discuss this issue as there are no amount of words i could put together to fully get across my side to you and would deeply appreciate the opportunity to have you hear our side of the story. If could let me know when you are free that would be fantastic, feel free to give me a call on 07595325989.

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