Scotland’s school vandalism bill tops £1m

Mary Scanlon: 'Alarmed' by cost of addressing school vandalism. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Mary Scanlon: 'Alarmed' by cost of addressing school vandalism. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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MORE than £1 million was spent by Scottish councils last year repairing the damage caused by vandals in schools, it has been revealed.

Schools in Dundee and Aberdeen sustained the most damage, with council officials forced to pay out £174,000 and £151,000 respectively in repairs.

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Fife Council also had to shell out a considerable sum to pay for vandalism – £155,000 – as did Falkirk with £92,000. Edinburgh paid out more than £36,000 to tackle the problem. Meanwhile, Western Isles Council sustained no school vandalism at all over the past 12 months.

The figures obtained using Freedom of Information legislation revealed around £20,000 per week is being shelled out by taxpayers to address the problem.

Some local authorities – including Glasgow and West Lothian – failed to respond, so the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.

Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said: “Every penny spent on sorting out damage to school buildings is money that could be focused on children’s education. It’s alarming that such a considerable sum is being spent addressing vandalism in Scotland’s schools.

“These irresponsible acts cause distress to communities and inconvenience to staff and pupils. Stronger action would help deter others considering acts like this.”

Earlier this year, young boys aged 11 and 12 were reported to the Children’s Panel after nearly 30 windows were smashed at an Aberdeen school. Police Scotland confirmed the three youngsters, two aged 11 and one 12-year-old, were charged with committing the vandalism offences in March and April.

In another case, a primary head teacher in Glenrothes in Fife made a heartfelt appeal to vandals to stop targeting her school in October.

Aileen McGowan, the head of Pitcoudie Primary, said a recent spate of attacks against school property has been “upsetting” for pupils.

Broken windows and picnic tables were reported, while a tin of paint was used to stain the Fife playground.

To combat the problem, police in Glenrothes have adopted a “Shop A Vandal” scheme which encourages members of the public to supply information to police by completing a coupon, anonymously if they wish, identifying those responsible for vandalism.

Fife Council’s service manager Louise Playford said: “We take the issue of vandalism in our schools very seriously as it can cause real disruption in our school communities.

“Over the past few years we have improved security measures at a number of our schools with more CCTV cameras being installed and other systems being improved. Whilst we recognise that these costs are still significant, they have been reducing over recent years and we will continue to work with local police to try and prevent incidents where possible.”

Dundee, which has been plagued by vandalism in recent years, spent a reported £1.1 million on repairing public property since 2011, the highest costs in Scotland.

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “The council has been working hard to apply risk management measures to reduce the impact and cost of vandalism on its buildings.

“New school buildings meet design standards and we have carried out a rolling programme of improvements on older buildings.

“The council also works in partnership with Police Scotland in anti-vandalism education efforts with young people.”

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