By Ken Bennett
A multi-agency task force is launching a high-visibility crackdown at a Greenfield beauty spot plagued by litter louts.
GMP’s Saddleworth policing team is working with the RSPB, Park Rangers Service, Greater Manchester Fire Service and United Utilities at Dovestone Reservoir.
Police officers, some on mountain bikes, supported by a mobile police station, have been patrolling the area as part of the crackdown on potential problems.
There were also six special constables, Oldham Council wardens and a group of Fire Cadets giving advice around fire risks with barbecues and water dangers.
Anti-social behaviour has plagued the much-loved visitor destination recently, including discarded barbecues, believed to be the source of large-scale fires on the moors.
Nesting areas for birds have been destroyed or disturbed by unthinking vandals and drunken groups have been causing damage and carelessly discarding large amounts of litter.
And the ‘Tree of Life’ memorial forest, dedicated to deceased family and friends, was used as a picnic area with litter and rubbish left behind.
PC Lee Cullen, Saddleworth South neighbourhood beat officer, said: “Some trees have been snapped over and one of the plaques damaged.
“This is unacceptable in a memorial area where families come to visit love ones with some of the trees actually having ashes scattered amongst the roots.
“Police, along with their partners, want people to come to Dovestones and enjoy the unique and beautiful scenery of a national park.
“We do not want it treated like a dumping ground littered with discarded items along with still smouldering discarded barbecues on what is now tinder dry foliage.”
He added: “We have also had large groups at Dovestones with quantities of alcohol and then they exhibit in an anti-social way which really is causing distress and alarm to large numbers of the public.”
Police are using Whats App to quickly send secure encrypted messages to share vital information simultaneously with their partners and boost responses.
The initiative has been widely praised including by, Miriam Biran, RSPB’s visitor experience manager, who said: “The public can help by not having barbecues or lighting fires.
“They need to take responsibility, removing their litter and reporting fires if they see them.”
Dr Andrew Taylor, chair of Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents Association, said: “We and horrified at the disrespect shown by so many visitors to the Dovestone area.
“It is a great shame several organisations have to put in hundreds of man hours of voluntary and professional time to deal with a problem which did not exist fifteen years ago.
“Costed out, it would come to thousands of pounds of effort which could so well be spent more productively elsewhere.”