Police have defended their action after two girls were spoken to for playing hopscotch in the street.

The two 14-year-olds - Kayleigh Mangan and Georgina Smallwood - were told they were behaving in an "anti-social" manner by playing the game.

They were also told off by community support officers for chalking too many hopscotch grids on the pavement in Halesowen.

But West Midlands Police said they were justified in their stance because the girls were committing "low level crime".

And they denied reports that the officer had ordered the girls to clean the markings up. The officers spoke to the teenagers' mothers, and the girls were ordered to scrub off most of the chalk markings outside their homes in Spring Street.

The incident happened just days after police took action against three other young girls, also in Halesowen, for building a treehouse.

The 12-year-olds concerned spent two hours in a cell, had their photographs, fingerprints and DNA swabs taken.

On both occasions police defended their actions by saying they were acting on a complaint from residents.

In the earlier incident, residents claimed the girls had been vandalising a tree to build a treehouse, when in fact the youngsters had only gathered the loose branches off the ground and turned them into a den.

Families in some streets in Halesowen have also been told not to let their children play ball games, while others have been ticked off for riding their bikes on pavements.

In the hopscotch incident, two community support officers tracked down Kayleigh and Georgina after a complaint from a neighbour.

The girls' parents said they were "flabbergasted" at the police's reaction. Georgina's mum Diane said: "Some newer residents who don't have children seem annoyed about them playing outside and are using the police to make their point."

Kayleigh said being a child in Halesowen was no fun. She said: "First we can't ride bikes and play ball, then they say we can play hopscotch, then we can't - what would they like to do, lock us in a cage?

"The officers said our grids made the street a mess and told us to clean it up. They said they didn't mind one but four or five was too many."

West Midlands Police said they had no choice but to act when a resident rang to complain.

And she said they would "not hesitate to respond robustly" to any further comp laints of "anti-social behaviour".

"We have had many reports of anti-social behaviour in this area," she said. "A community support officer visited the location and the girls' behaviour was brought to the attention of their mothers.

"By targeting what may seem relatively low-level crime, we aim to prevent it developing into more serious matters."