A group of free runners have criticised police for warning residents against the “dangers” of the acrobatic sport.

The outdoor activity – also known as Parkour – has been taken up by some young people in Stevenage.

Those who participate tackle improvised obstacle courses in urban areas – climbing, vaulting and running along buildings and other structures.

Stevenage police have issued a statement saying that those taking part risk “serious injury” or even “committing a criminal offence”.

Anti-social behavioural officer Tara Cooks said: “Only last year a local lad was seriously injured after falling from a multi-storey car park, whilst attempting some free running.

“We are not trying to stop people from having fun, but don’t want to see another accident. Also damage is sometimes caused to buildings that are being used and unauthorised access would be considered trespass.

“I would urge people involved in this activity to consider their actions as any damage caused to buildings, or any other offences that are committed will be investigated and participants could end up with a criminal record.”

Andehh Mansell, of the Stevenage-based LDM Parkour group, says he and his fellow free runners have never received any complaints.

He said: “I understand that different people are entitled to their views and it’s fair enough if someone doesn’t like Parkour.

“I regularly go to the town centre to practice free running and I have never had anyone complain or tell me to stop what I’m doing – if anything people usually ask us to perform one of our tricks for them!

“Many people from the community have signed up to our social media sites, as fans, and they are interested in our progress. It’s a growing sport that’s getting bigger all the time and involves real discipline. I think it’s a stange message for the police to send – would they rather we were hanging out in parks taking drugs? I think not.”

Do you think free runners should be discouraged from performing tricks? Email us on editorial@thecomet.net or call 01438 866200.