Police column - School’s out but anti-nuisance lessons go on

The recent anti-vandalism clean-up at St Luke's and Mayfield Primary Schools.
The recent anti-vandalism clean-up at St Luke's and Mayfield Primary Schools.

As you read this I hope the sun is shining and everyone is enjoying the summer holidays, a time we all look forward to, writes Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson.

For us this time of year is often very busy with calls concerning anti-social behaviour caused by young people. With the school holidays it means kids are out and about for longer, later and this can lead to issues of noise and nuisance on street corners and parks. It can however also mean a more serious increase in vandalism and the setting of fires around Midlothian.

In previous columns, I have mentioned the extensive damage caused during school holidays to school buildings. It must be soul- destroying for the teachers, pupils, parents and council staff knowing their schools – buildings at the heart of the community – are being vandalised. The money spent fixing this damage could be much better spent invested in our children's education.

As a result, and in partnership with Midlothian Council Education Department, we took part in an initiative to tidy up the school playgrounds before the end of term. Much of the damage is opportunistic, so anything that could be used to break windows or cause other damage was removed from the playgrounds. Local community officers will patrol the schools over the summer, and other areas where young people gather, to engage with them positively but also to deter the more serious problems of vandalism and fire setting.

A contributory factor in some of this anti-social behaviour is the problem of underage drinking and we routinely deal with young people under the influence of alcohol. As a result of the detrimental effect this has on the their behaviour they are often aggressive and abusive towards other members of the public and police officers alike. Recently we have charged employees at off licence premises for selling alcohol to underage youths and also an adult for buying alcohol for others. We will continue to proactively target this problem, as in addition to the anti-social behaviour, it can place the youngsters at risk medically or place them in situations they might not be able to control.

I would again ask all parents and guardians to be mindful of what their children are doing when they are out and to speak to them about the need to behave responsibly and to be considerate of the effect they can have on the community.