PARENTS are being taken to task after boozed up teenagers put people’s lives at risk by blatantly ignoring social distancing rules to attend mass outdoor drinking parties in Inverclyde.

Hundreds of youths defied the warnings to stay at home to stop the spread of coronavirus and instead ran riot at open air drinking sessions in Gourock and Greenock.

Residents looked on in horror as crowds of young people - some reportedly dropped off by their parents - gathered on the Drumshantie Road pitches and nearby moorland in Gourock on both Friday and Saturday night.

The situation was so bad the police say a 17-year-old boy was found passed out drunk in a nearby field and had to be rushed to hospital.

Several cars were also vandalised in Reservoir Road and Garvie Avenue on Saturday at about 10pm.

Crowds of youths also gathered at Papermill Road in Greenock on Friday evening, prompting concerned community wardens to contact the police.

The police, Inverclyde Council and residents have united to express outrage at the reckless behaviour during the current public health crisis.

One furious resident, who asked not to be named, said he was appalled to see parents dropping young people of at the Drumshantie Road pitches on Friday night.

He said: “ On Friday night, for over three hours, from 5pm until around 8pm, when police finally arrived, around 70 young people congregated within the 3G pitches at Drumshantie Road.

“They were drinking alcohol, smashing glass bottles, playing loud music and fighting with each other within the pitches and on the road.

“My concerns are firstly the anti-social behaviour element and secondly the safety of the young people in terms of the misuse of alcohol, and the risk of COVID 19.

"What is the point of the schools and cinemas being closed and telling everyone to follow social distancing if these young people are continually allowed to gather in such large numbers?”

Sergeant Jason Logsdon of Greenock police said the youths' actions could have a ‘devastating’ impact on the spread of coronavirus in Inverclyde.

He said: “As the schools have stopped early as part of the Scottish Government’s strategy to control the spread of COVID-19, police have responded to numerous incidents throughout Inverclyde regarding large groups of young people gathering, some drinking alcohol resulting in anti-social behaviour, vandalism and violence, not to mention the mess left behind.

“These actions could have a devastating effect on the spread of COVID-19 in Inverclyde, putting themselves, their family and emergency services at risk.”

Sergeant Logsdon appealed for parents to ensure that there is no repeat this weekend and that children follow the lockdown ordered by the government.

He added: “We understand that young people were celebrating the last day of school and that police are not trying to criminalise our young people for wanting to gather with friends.

"However this behaviour is putting lives at risk and when offences are committed, robust action will be taken."

Inverclyde Council confirmed that community wardens were called out to help deal with the dangerous situation.

A spokesman said: “Our wardens were called out at about 7pm on Saturday night because around 20 young people had gathered on the Drumshantie Road pitches.

“When the wardens arrived this group headed off towards the nearby Scout hut and dispersed into the woods behind it.

“It’s possible that a bigger group came back later but the wardens weren’t contacted again.

“Anti-social behaviour is a regular problem at this location especially over the summer holidays.

“Clearly the situation has been made worse by the fact that schools have closed early.

“Large gatherings like this are a clear risk to public health and a direct risk to the young people involved, their families and everyone they come into contact with.

“Parents and carers should be working with us to contain this outbreak and not adding to it by allowing their children to get together in large groups.

“It is utterly irresponsible to actively drop off young people at these kinds of gatherings.

“Anti-social behaviour is a problem for the community at the best of times but this takes it to a new level.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe says he is begging young people to follow the guidelines and stay at home.

He said: “It’s disappointing that young people are not taking this message seriously to stay at home.

“They are putting themselves in danger, their friends in danger and their families and the wider community in danger.

“I implore them and beg them to stay at home.

“If they don’t follow the advice then tens of thousands of people could die.

“That’s how serious it is."

Photos: Stephen Henry