IT would be “unfair” to blame boredom for a spate of antisocial behaviour by youths in the city centre that saw two teenagers arrested, a deputy police inspector has said.

Last Thursday, Wiltshire Police urged parents to take responsibility for their children during the holidays, after Salisbury was hit by an outbreak of antisocial behaviour by youths.

It came after a string of incidents, including threatening and abusive behaviour, from a group of children who also caused damage to local shops and were seen fighting in the street and hanging off the back of a bus.

Later that day, a 13-year-old was arrested and charged with failing to comply with a section 35 direction order, after being told to leave a certain area of the city centre by officers on foot patrol.

The following day, a 15-year-old was arrested on suspicion of common assault, after a 63-year-old man was hit on the head in Brown Street car park. For legal reasons, neither youth can be named.

Deputy Inspector John Hutchings said he believed the two assaults were “isolated”, but represented an escalation of the behaviour shown during the Christmas holidays, which he said was “fairly consistent, low-level antisocial behaviour”.

“For youths to become emboldened enough to actually attack an adult, that’s not a good path,” he said.

Dep Insp Hutchings said it had been “pretty much” the same group of children involved in each incident of antisocial behaviour – some as young as 10-years-old – and the two arrested had been some of the “ringleaders”.

“We don’t want to blow it out of proportion, but actually it’s taken up a lot of our time and it’s disruptive and annoying and, for those on the wrong end of it, it’s quite alarming and distressing,” he added.

Social media users were divided over the issue, with some blaming the youths’ parents and others putting the antisocial behaviour down to teenage boredom, and citing a lack on offer for young people to do in Salisbury.

But Dep Insp Hutchings said it was not justified to use boredom as an excuse and that there were “wider issues” behind the incidents, adding: “To say that they’re bored is not fair to the efforts the city has made in order to make this an inclusive period for all age groups.I think there’s been lots to do for kids.

“There’s an element of attitude and behaviour which is prolific within the individuals, which some would argue stem from family life, but that’s not the case for some. Some of these kids come from very supportive parents, but for whatever reason they aren’t behaving themselves.”

And he said police use an arrest as a last resort in cases where youths are involved, and that it is only used if the youth fails to engage in conversation with the police.

Dep Insp Hutchings said he “very much anticipates” a drop-off in this behaviour as children return to school this week.