Police deny return of teen gangs in Midlothian

Teenage gangs
Teenage gangs

Police have played down fears that gang violence has returned to Mayfield, just four years after a gang-related death in the area.

Residents living near Bryans Wood between Mayfield and Newtongrange told last week’s Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council meeting of the return of terror to the area, with gangs believed to be from Newtongrange, Mayfield and Woodburn taking part in running battles after a Newtongrange teenager was assaulted by two youths from Woodburn.

One local resident said: “I had about 15 youths outside my window throwing missiles and setting bins on fire.

“They are running wild.”

Community council chairman Robert Hogg said: “It’s going back to the days of gangs.

“It’s rearing it’s ugly head again. The police are trying to keep a cap on it just now. Hopefully it all dies down.

“But in the last couple of weeks it has not been good at all. The reports we got was that there was up to 30 people gathered at the Bryans.”

Police confirmed that they had received information of an incident involving a group of youths on May 17, but having tracked down the victim he did not want to take the matter further. And on May 22, police acting on a tip-off attended a planned gang fight at Bryans Wood.

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson told the Advertiser: “That was us acting on community feedback, we attended and no disturbance took place. We have heard nothing since.

“We regularly give that area attention as part of our community policing team activities and there has been no further incidents.

“We will always take on community intelligence and community feedback.

“But it’s disappointing that people are saying gang fighting has returned.

“If there was anything going on we would know about it.

“We want to build a relationship with our local communities and I genuinely believe that that two way flow of communication has been beneficial to the police and to the community.”

On February 12, 2011, Mayfield teenager Dale Bennett was fatally stabbed in a gang related incident in Gorebridge. His attacker Brian McHale was sentenced to at least 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to culpable homicide. The trial heard how Dale and a group of friends from Mayfield were on their way to a party with friends in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge.

In the street they were met by McHale and his gang and a fight broke out. McHale was chased into a house in Newbyres Crescent but came out brandishing a knife. He lashed out at the first person he saw, Dale Bennett.

Since his death the Dale Bennett Memorial Fund has raised money for numerous community projects across Midlothian.