Destructive schoolchildren smashed artworks and destroyed furniture at a youth project, forcing it to close its doors.

Yesterday afternoon (May 11), children aged between 11 and 13-years-old smashed up the property at the Loughton Youth Project, based at The Space in Loughton library, Traps Hill.

Although regular activities such as community radio shows and creative classes continue, organiser Nick Robinson has been forced to close the damaged room – used as a ‘drop-in’ space after school hours – until the end of the week.

Young people’s artworks were destroyed, tables were smashed, sofas were ripped open and curtains torn from the windows by the vandals.

Mr Robinson, who relies on community funding to run the project, says it was the third incident of vandalism by children at The Space in recent weeks.

“I have been seeing it not just here, but in Loughton more generally, a pattern emerging which concerns me,” he said.

“Vandalism, anti-social behaviour.

“The sun is staying out later in the evening, it is that time of the year.

“We have been running this project for seven years… it is very hard to have a constructive dialogue with groups like that.

“That is why I think we cannot stay open at the moment.”

He added: “It is the brazenness which really shocks me.

“In the past… if I was having an issue with two or three ringleaders or troublesome groups it would be more contained, but they are different kids each time.

“That is the concern I have.”

This morning (May 12), Mr Robinson said he was yet to speak to Essex Police and schools about the incident, but he said he would be in an attempt to stop the ongoing problem.

The Loughton Youth Project works on media and music projects with teenagers, and has classes on topics such as cooking and photography.

Youth counsellors use rooms at The Space, and older teenagers also visit to revise for exams and do coursework.

Mr Robinson said the vandalism and anti-social behaviour has the worst effect on other children.

“It is disappointing because there are a lot of kids who enjoy coming here but aren’t coming here so much at the moment, because of what they are seeing and it is spoiling it for them.”