Published 05 July 2022

West Dunbartonshire Council is to increase patrols around schools and early years centres following a relentless spate of vandalism and anti-social behavior in school grounds.

Officers from the Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team will include educational premises while out on their community patrols and Police Scotland will also monitor sites to reduce mindless vandalism in school premises.

Police Scotland Crime Prevention Officers will work with the Council and Scottish Strathclyde Fire and Rescue to visit schools to raise awareness of the dangers of fire starting in Fire Safety awareness sessions to pupils.

In the latest incident, at Gavinburn Primary School and Early Learning and Childcare Centre (ELCC), vandals destroyed thousands of pounds in resources following a wilful fire at the school. 

Valuable children’s resources including external play equipment, wellington boots and playsuits for outdoor play were also lost due to the fire and there was significant damage caused at the entrance to the ELCC, including to external lighting and the alarm system.

Dalreoch ELCC in Dumbarton has also been targeted with vandals destroying outside play equipment and Our Lady of Loretto Primary School and ELCC, in Clydebank has also been singled out for regular vandalism at the property.

The Council has committed to ensuring all damaged facilities and resources at Our Lady of Loretto be replaced to ensure they are ready for children after the holidays.  

The Clydebank school has reported several incidents of vandalism and anti-social behavior including damage to children’s bikes and helmets and damage to the outdoor education area.

In another incident, the children’s hut used as an outdoor classroom was deliberately set on fire and beautiful tyre planters created by the children destroyed.  A sandpit enjoyed by the younger children was also set on fire and the fence separating the school playground and nursery garden has also been significantly damaged.

Councillor Clare Steel, Convener of Educational Services, said: “Our families have been very upset at the mindless anti-social behavior and vandalism within our school grounds. This is very distressing not only for our employees but for the children to see their beloved possessions deliberately damaged is hard for them to understand. Our employees, along with the support of families, work hard to create outdoor learning areas to teach our children and young people and to have them destroyed beyond repair is absolutely heartbreaking.” 

Councillor Craig Edward, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “West Dunbartonshire Council has a zero tolerance to this behavior and our Anti-Social Behaviour team will work closely with Police Scotland to take the most appropriate action against any offender identified. Children should not have to experience this at any age but particularly our youngest children who don’t understand why anyone would want to destroy their special areas. We are taking swift action to prevent any further vandalism and working in partnership with Police Scotland, our Anti-Social Behaviour team will increase patrols around schools to discourage  these youths from entering the grounds and causing mindless acts of vandalism.”  

Chief Inspector Coleen Wylie said: “We are aware of these recent issues involving antisocial behaviour incidents around schools and we are acutely aware of the disruptive effect this can have on the community.

“Local officers are working closely with partners, including West Dunbartonshire Council, to address these issues.

“Dedicated patrols are carried out in affected areas, with officers providing reassurance to the community as well as discouraging antisocial behaviour.

"We are committed to encouraging people away from this kind of behaviour but will take appropriate action where incidents are reported and offenders identified.

"Anyone who has concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area is encouraged to contact police by calling 101 as promptly as possible."