Councillors in central Fife have condemned parents after it emerged some have been plying teenagers with alcohol and contributing to antisocial behaviour problems.
The shock revelation came during the latest Cowdenbeath area committee meeting, where Lochgelly resident Paul McGowan queried what steps have been taken to tackle growing youth disorder across Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty.
Lochgelly Public Park has been a particular hotspot, but reports have ranged from vandalism being done to Cowdenbeath war memorial to areas of woodland being deliberately set alight by drunk adolescents.
However, when discussions turned to where teeny tipplers were accessing their alcohol at weekends, the answer proved surprising.
Dawn Jamieson, Safer Communities team manager, confirmed: “The intelligence that Safer Communities officers have been getting is that quite often it is parents who are dropping off their children with alcohol.
“So, as well as working with young people it would be good to do some education with adults as well.”
Inspector Steven Hoggan echoed Ms Jamieson’s sentiments and said his officers were hearing similar things.
“Some of the feedback is that the parents feel safer giving the alcohol to the children because they then know what their children have, rather than leaving them to source their own alcohol which could be anything,” he pointed out.
Efforts to stop alcohol-fuelled disturbances and disorder are being stepped up amid fears the problem could become more widespread with the lighter nights coming in.
Lochgelly councillor Lea McLelland said antisocial behaviour had gotten to such a point that “something seriously needs to happen” to curb it.
She said: “It’s in our inbox every single week and people’s lives are being made a misery.
“I feel we’ve been hitting a brick wall with this for five years now – the kids get older and move on, but we get older and just seem to be standing still.”
Cowdenbeath councillor Darren Watt, who has condemned some serious antisocial behaviour incidents in recent months, also urged community safety partners to look at work done in Levenmouth, where extra resources and a targeted approach have improved the situation.
But he added: “When even the parents are the ones buying the alcohol, you are always going to be up against a difficult battle to try and tackle this behaviour.”
Community manager Sarah Roxburgh acknowledged that many diversionary programmes had simply not been able to run due to the Covid pandemic but stressed that engagement with youngsters in schools and youth venues was starting to pick up again.
“We need to engage with them to find out what they want to take part in in their local area,” she commented.
However, she urged caution on copying Levenmouth’s approach, adding: “We’ve obviously been very interested in what work is being done in Levenmouth but what works in one area might not work in another.
“We can’t just lift and shift. We need to make it work for what we’re experiencing here.”
Inspector Hoggan also revealed that police are looking at introducing a bottle marking scheme for licensed premises that might help identify the source of alcohol and support enforcement activities.
With the schools breaking off for Easter, the community team will be out and about over the weekend in Cowdenbeath, Lumphinnans, Lochgelly, Kelty and Cardenden checking known antisocial behaviour hotspot areas and engaging with youths.