YOUTHS have been accused of spitting and coughing at security and retail workers in Carlisle city centre - just as the Coronavirus crisis took grip.

One incident happened just before lunchtime, Wednesday last week and was reported by Carlisle Business Crime Awareness - the group that fights consumer crime in the city's main shopping district.

It posted a warning to parents on Facebook that the children were "spitting and coughing at our retail workers" adding that: "Covid-19 needs to be taken seriously by everyone and anyone found to be putting others health and safety at risk will be reported to the police, don’t let it be your child."

During the incident on Wednesday a security guard, who does not want to be named, said he confronted five youths in a store.

He said: "About 11.30am I was called to the shop floor as the youths were messing about.

"I asked them all to leave and why they weren’t in school.

"They told me that they were sent home from school because someone had Coronavirus - I told them they should really be going straight home.

"At this point the all started coughing with mouths uncovered at me.

"After an exchange of words about knowing the dangers of what they were doing one of the boys turned to spit at me when he was exiting the store.

"Other stores reported other incidents of anti social behaviour round the same time."

Police in Carlisle issued a plea to parents in the city last week after a spike in calls concerning teenagers after a wave of school closures.

They had to deal with an above average number of calls because of "groups of teenagers around the city", mainly in the city centre, Raffles and Morton areas.

A spokesman for the force said: "A small number of groups are throwing stones at windows and vehicles, shouting abuse, spitting and causing anti-social behaviour and have targeted a number of residents.

"As you can imagine a number of victims are already in a heightened state of anxiety due to the outbreak, and to experience further trauma of antis-social behaviour will have a huge effect on victims."

The police spokesman made a plea to parents to make sure children are made aware of the "effect they are causing on their local community.

"Your child should also be dissuaded from going around in groups to prevent the spread of the virus.

"If your child is displaying any symptoms they should be isolated as per the Government's guidelines.

"These are unprecedented times and we hope you will be able to assist us in keeping your community safe."