POLICE in Ripley have torn down a woodland den built for under-age boozing sessions by children as young as 12.
The den had been erected by a youngsters in woods off Nottingham Road.
Officers from three Safer Neighbourhood teams joined forces to tackle the problem after the alarm was raised by a dog walker.
A police spokeswoman said: “A number of youths had been seen on the private land on numerous occasions.
“Under-age drinking was allegedly taking place most evenings and the area was strewn with litter and empty alcohol containers. Camp fires were lit which could have easily spread to damage the wood further.
The owner of the land, farmer James Hill, said: “The den was erected using a number of branches from trees in the wood. The youths were using it as a meeting place and were causing a considerable amount of damage to my land. They used one of my fields to access the den and have ruined established crops.
“I am grateful to the police for tackling this issue as it was beginning to get out of hand and the number of youths congregating was forever increasing.”
Sgt Andrew Phillips, who heads Safer Neighbourhood policing for Ripley section, said: “The youths were causing an increasing concern for the owner of the land and the police.
“There were a number of youths under-age drinking, some of whom were only 12 years old.
“Safer Neighbourhood officers from Ripley, Langley Mill and Heanor teams joined together to tackle the issue.
“More than 30 letters were sent to parents of the youths causing anti-social behaviour and more than 50 alcohol containers were seized. The den was dismantled and regular patrols will continue in the area to prevent this becoming a recurring problem.”
A spokeswoman said the team plans to crack down on licensed premises that sell alcohol to youths under age.