MCDONALD'S has agreed to switch off its wifi and could start playing classical music to deter young people from loitering outside and causing trouble.

Operation Varney was launched in March to tackle antisocial behaviour in Newport but, following a surge of incidents last weekend, police have stepped up patrols.

Acting Sgt Martin Egerton, usually based in Yarmouth, has been drafted in to oversee the crackdown.

Previously stationed in Newport, he said: "I know the town, I know the players and I know who's causing the problems. It's the same kids, the same faces.

"When you get large groups gathering it comes across as very intimidating. There were more than 60 on Friday night — all feral, abusive, threatening to fight the police.

"Fighting is one of the problems, and criminal damage. Kicking shop windows, for example. There are public order incidents too — shouting and swearing at people. Sometimes they have been drinking, but that's not often the case.

"They know PCSOs can't arrest them, they say, 'you can't tell us what to do.' So we are bringing in officers from across the Island."

Newport businesses have pledged to support the police, and McDonald's has agreed to turn of its free wifi from 4pm. Playing classical music is another option under consideration.

Dealing with the antisocial behaviour on the street is one thing — but the real challenge is tackling the root cause of the problem.

Teenagers have been hanging around outside McDonald's for years, but they rarely smash shop windows and throw roof slates at passing cars.

This week officers have been accompanied by members of the Youth Offending Team, who have been encouraging young people to stay out of trouble.

Arresting teenagers and younger children is a last resort. The police would rather hand out Section 35 dispersal orders, and speak to their parents.

Acting Sgt Egerton said: "We will always try to find a resolution, we don't want 12 year olds getting arrested.

"Sometimes they leave us no choice, but we will try everything to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

"They come from all over the Island to hang around in Newport, and this is the problem we have — there's nothing else for them to do.

"I would say to parents, do you know where your kids are? Who are they with? Are they drinking or taking drugs? It's your responsibility."

There is no suggestion the youths pictured had committed any offences. The pictures are for illustrative purposes.