POLICE are investigating after litter was found strewn across a river bank in Barnard Castle.
Broken bottles and empty cans were left from people camping overnight, as well as clothes and general rubbish.
The area, known locally as the beach, near the Demesnes, has been cleaned up by local residents on several occasions.
Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) has released a statement urging visitors to use the area with respect and take any litter away with them.
PC Steven Purchase, of Barnard Castle NPT, said: “Complaints of underage drinking, and the litter left behind, have been received from locals.
“Minor criminal damage and antisocial behaviour causes them a lot of stress and the area has become a priority for us.
“People have been visiting the area for generations and many of them come and go without any problems. They can light a small beach fire and enjoy themselves, but it needs to be safe.
“We want people to understand that there is nothing wrong with them going down to the river bank as long as there’s no disruption.”
Barnard Castle Mayor, Councillor John Blissett, said: “I think it’s totally disgusting. It’s lack of discipline and a frank disregard for the area and the town. Fair enough have a picnic and a drink but clean up the mess.
“As far as I’m concerned, they should have more respect. It doesn’t show the town in a very good light, or them.”
PC Purchase added: “The rubbish that was found on Monday morning (July 28) probably wasn’t left by underage drinkers.
“We believe people from out of town have travelled to the area and camped overnight and we are investigating to find out who’s responsible for all of the rubbish.”
The river bank is a popular spot for families and dog walkers, who have raised concerns about broken glass left on the pebbles.
Police are liaising with Durham County Council to organise a clean-up of the area and say that regular patrols will take place during weekends to ensure no litter is left behind.