I have previously talked in my column about the issue of antisocial behaviour by young people in Midlothian and the impact it has on the community, writes Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson.
As you may have seen in the Advertiser and elsewhere there has been an increase in the problem in and around the Eskbank and Dalkeith town centre area. In conjunction with our partners we have begun to target the area with both uniformed and plain clothed officers to build up a picture of who is involved and to identify those responsible for specific offences and crimes.
To date we have names of over 20 youngsters who have been found in and around Dalkeith town centre in the evening and a number have been charged with offences of an antisocial nature. Of the young people, both girls and boys, that we have spoken to, the eldest is 17 and the youngest are a number of 12-year-olds. I am unsure the reason for this spike in the area or what has attracted the youths in such numbers but I would ask for your help as parents, residents and businesses in Midlothian to help us tackle the issue.
The majority of the issues are occurring between 6pm and 9pm and alcohol features prominently. Having seen the ages of some of the children involved and the fact that the incidents are not limited to the weekend I would question if parents and guardians know what their children are up to. More than one youngster has been taken home heavily under the influence of alcohol and, in addition to the nuisance this causes others, it poses a very real risk to the safety and health of the child.
The police have an important part to play in tackling antisocial behaviour and we will deal robustly with any persons identified as committing offences and follow up the list of names we have gathered but I would urge parents take responsibility for the actions of their children when they leave the house each evening. Do you know where they are going and who with? Have they helped themselves to anything from the drinks cabinet? Do you challenge them about what they have been doing if they come home late or under the influence of alcohol? Together we can reduce the problem and reduce the impact this type of behaviour has on the community.