People are lying to the police about anti-social behaviour to get groups of children dispersed, police have said.
A senior policeman admitted there was an increasing trend of residents calling to complain about innocent behaviour, like playing football.
Inspector Andy Ramsey, from Leicestershire Police, said incidents were exaggerated or even invented to ensure officers intervened.
A Neighbourhood Watch group said misuse of police time was irresponsible.
Mr Ramsey said: "Young people are more likely to be out with nowhere to go, no youth centre, nowhere other than the park to play football.
"Believe it or not people will ring and complain that kids are playing football on the grass.
"The new way to get the police there, because people know we won't come for kids just playing football, is to say they are taking drugs, they are lighting fires or they are causing damage."
Terry Reynolds, a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, said it was important people who saw groups of teenagers did not leap to conclusions.
"You can't judge kids by how they look. It's the one or two bad ones who grab the headlines and most are no trouble," he said.
"All our members are educated to know what is anti-social behaviour and what is not.
"If behaviour becomes unacceptable then the authorities can be called but people should remember they were young once too."