OFFICIALS at an iconic County Durham museum have been asked to lock the gates to its public grounds at night in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Police have written to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, requesting the move following complaints from residents who live nearby.

The issue was raised at a recent Police and Communities Together (PACT) meeting and Sergeant Simon Rogers, of Barnard Castle police, conceded it was an ongoing problem.

“We have receive complaints from residents," he said.

"Youths are going along past their houses into the grounds of the Bowes Museum and drinking.

“A couple of hours later they are returning and are banging on people's windows,” he added.

However, the Bowes Museum's head of finance, Richard Welsby, said the issue was not as straightforward as simply locking the gates at night.

He explained the grounds around the museum were bequeathed by Joséphine Bowes as a public park.

“The Bowes Museum maintains the park for the benefit of the residents of Barnard Castle and visitors to the museum.”

The park is also home to the town's bowls and tennis clubs and is popular with dog walkers and community groups.

Mr Welsby said the museum would take a considered approach to finding a solution to a complex problem.

“Whilst it is in the interest of the museum to do whatever is necessary to deter anti-social behaviour in the park, it is also necessary for us to consider the needs of responsible users and to consider the cost implications and practicalities of locking the gates.

“The museum must also consider whether locking the park at night could increase the risk of more serious criminal behaviour going undetected in an empty park,” he said.