Anti-social behaviour and underage drinking in and around parks needs tougher action from police, Falkirk councillors have told the area’s senior officers.
In particular, they say there has to be more effective punishment for the extreme anti-social behaviour – including fire-raising and vandalism – that has been witnessed in Grangemouth’s Zetland Park.
Members of Falkirk Council’s licensing board also said they would like more emphasis on finding out who is buying drink for youngsters, and which shops they are using.
The councillors, from all political parties, made their remarks following the chief constable’s annual report to the board, which emphasised “prevention and intervention work” with young people.
Inspector Andy Tough told councillors that there is strong partnership working between schools and other agencies in the hope that early intervention will prevent problem behaviour.
The chief constable’s report highlighted the work of officers based in secondary schools.
Not only do they try to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol, they are also well placed to gain their trust in order to gather intelligence about where the alcohol is coming from.
And community officers who come across children and young people under
the influence of alcohol will then make a point of involving partners in healthcare, social work and education.
In this way, the report said: “Steps can be taken to establish the root cause for these behaviours rather than criminalising these children who are often found to be amongst the most vulnerable in our communities.”
But councillors were concerned that not enough enforcement action was being taken.
Grangemouth councillor Allyson Black told the inspector that while she welcomed the positive interventions to reduce anti-social behaviour, she felt that communities also expect there to be repercussions and punishment.
She said: “There has been a lot of anti-social behaviour in Grangemouth; vandalism, fire-raising and violence – a lot of it alcohol-related – and those acts definitely need stricter measures to be put in place so there is a deterrent.”
Another Grangemouth councillor, David Balfour, said: “We really need a bit of reassurance that there’s more being done to try and trace where the alcohol is coming from.”
Falkirk South councillor John Patrick added that he was particularly concerned about the rise in home deliveries of alcohol and wanted more reassurance that this was being properly supervised.
Inspector Tough said he did not want councillors to get the impression that young people who were caught offending were not being charged.
He said: “I’m fully aware of the concerns of the community. I absolutely accept that we have had real issues in Grangemouth and Zetland Park, but people have been charged.
“Perhaps we should publicise more when we charge young people, which we absolutely will do when they are breaking the law.
“I don’t want to give the impression we are trying to pass the buck – we are trying every avenue we possibly can because we can see there are real concerns in the community.
“We will enforce the law and if we catch people supplying to underage kids they will be charged.”
By local democracy reporter Kirsty Paterson