POLICE are seeking to dispel the myth that a village’s derelict school buildings are haunted to discourage trespassing on the dangerous site.

Officers described the former St Peter’s School buildings and grounds, on the outskirts of Gainford, in County Durham, as “an accident waiting to happen” and warned people they face being arrested if caught inside the buildings.

Since being built in 1900 as an orphanage for 300 boys, the buildings have been used as a school and, most recently, a nursing home, but have been empty since 1997.

Despite the buildings being boarded up and containing ‘danger, keep out’ notices, local police say they still receive regular complaints about trespassing inside them.

They described rumours circulating on social media about sightings of ghosts at the site as “total rubbish” and said there was nothing of any monetary value left in the buildings.

Sergeant Simon Rogers, of Barnard Castle Police, said: “We would like to dispel any rumours about the place being haunted.

“There is nothing in the buildings and they are in such a poor state of repair both internally and externally, a serious accident could happen.

“People could fall through the floors or the building itself could collapse on them, there are uncovered manholes around the grounds and there are slates coming off the roofs.”

Beat officer PC David Williamson added: “The site is one big hazard.

“Our message is “please stay out for your own safety”.

“If people are found in there then they have to expect to be arrested for criminal damage, theft or being found in enclosed premises.

“They could find themselves unknowingly committing various offences.

“It is not the place to come for a day or night out.”