CAMPAIGNERS pretended to wreak havoc in a staff-free library to show how “dangerous” they are.

Members of Save Barnet Libraries carried out an experiment at Edgware Library, in Hale Lane, which is the first to pilot a scheme to see whether libraries without trained staff would work.

They pretended to smoke cigarettes inside and put all the books to the floor to see whether their destruction would be caught.

Two people also collapsed to the ground as though they were unwell and needed urgent medical assistance.

But although there are CCTV cameras and a nearby security guard, nobody came to break the commotion up or check whether they were okay.

Barbara Jacobson, a member of the group, said: “It is not safe in any way.

“It is almost like putting a target on the building. That is so dangerous.

“They may as well stock it with weapons and tell people where to hit the bullseye.

“People say they don’t want to go there at night because it is creepy when nobody works there.

“Smoke alarms might not even pick up smoking.”

The pilot scheme was launched in summer, giving people the chance to go to the library between 7am and 10pm on Monday to Friday.

Nobody under the age of 16 is allowed in the library without an adult but this is something Mrs Jacobson says would be “impossible” to monitor.

She added: “It would be easy for anyone to walk out without checking a book out.

“If there are a group of people, only one person needs a key card so technically anyone could get in.

“We don’t want a building anyone can go into because the doors are open. We want a library service, not a building with books in.

“I am angry because I feel like we are being deceived.

“They have made a case for opening until 10pm at night and how wonderful it is – but we didn’t ask for that.

“The council are not listening to the reality of what people want from the service.”

Barnet Council is making £2.85million worth of cuts to the service – a decision which has been met with uproar. Staffed opening hours will be cut back by 70 per cent, and four libraries - Childs Hill, East Barnet, Mill Hill and South Friern – will be run by volunteers as ‘partnership libraries’.

Councillor Reuben Thompstone, chairman of the children, education and libraries committee, said: “It’s disappointing that some residents claim to have disrupted a session in this way.

“We are using the pilot at Edgware to trial a range of security measures which will inform any future adoption of the scheme. The scheme allows the library to be available outside of staffed hours.

“During the pilot stage, CCTV records each session, the building is regularly patrolled by a security guard and there is an emergency telephone. All users of the technology enabled opening hours at Edgware Library are required to register to gain access and if we find that any user has misused property during an unstaffed session, permission to use the library will be withdrawn.”