Rooftop ‘runners’ risk their lives as craze gets a grip

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YOUNGSTERS are taking their lives in their hands by leaping from roof to roof in Hemel Hempstead town centre as part of a new free running craze.

Groups are gathering on rooftops above Marlowes to do flips and cartwheels and jump across a four-metre gap between Lloyds Bank and B&M Bargains.

Free runners are travelling long distances because the town is the ‘best place to do it’ but council chiefs and the police are working to halt the ‘extremely dangerous activity’.

Ian Harris, security guard for B&M Bargains, said he had caught groups of 16 people on the roof.

“They’re running up walls, flipping, doing cartwheels and all sorts,” he said.

“They’re quite tall, skinny guys jumping all round the place. I say: ‘What are you doing?’ They say: ‘Free running’. I say you can’t be up here and I send them on their way.

“They come from quite far to Hemel because they say Hemel is the best place to do it.”

Dacorum Borough Council warns that anyone caught free running will be reported to the police.

Spokesman Katie Warner said: “The police have made us aware of incidents of free running around the town centre during the last six months.

“Free running is an extremely dangerous activity which poses a serious threat to the safety of those who take part and the general public.”

PC Andy Pardy, of the Hemel Hempstead Neighbourhood Team, said: “This is dangerous and could also lead to criminal damage.

“We are currently liaising with Dacorum Borough Council regarding the matter.”

>Are you one of the free runners? Contact Will Green in the newsroom on 01442 898454.