An army of clean-up kings and queens will help vanquish vandalism


Midlothian Council is enlisting an army of clean-up kings and queens to help vanquish vandals and round-up rubbish before the end of term.

The council is organising a week of playground tidy-ups

Working in conjunction with Police Scotland, the council is organising playground tidy-ups from Monday 26 June.

Clearing stones or sticks will help tackle vandalism

Speaking at the launch at the Mayfield and St Luke’s campus on Monday, the Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Jim Muirhead said: “With the support of our pupils, staff and potentially parents, we want to make sure our playgrounds are, as much as possible, devoid of stones, sticks or any other items an opportunistic vandal could use to damage our school estate during the holidays.

This is a joint initiative with Police Scotland

“We are working with Police Scotland on this initiative because, as local people will be aware, vandals caused £18,000 of damage to Hawthornden and St Mary’s during the Easter break. Mayfield and St Luke’s too have been targeted, as indeed have many other local schools.

The after-effects of vandalism are expensive and depressing

“It’s both infuriating and depressing to have to come back to school after a break or a weekend to find that once again, vandals have smashed windows or damaged roofs.  

We want playgrounds to be enjoyed

“Anything we can do, therefore, to encourage pupils to take pride in their playground and help thwart vandals is to be encouraged. We want to make sure playgrounds are safe, welcoming places during the break, not no-go areas.”

Police Scotland has offered to check CCTV

As well as the general tidy-ups, the council’s property and facilities teams will be checking building security. Police Scotland has also offered to check CCTV on the schools’ estate are all in working order.

Vandalism is often an opportunistic crime

Chief Inspector Kenny Simpson, Police Scotland’s Midlothian Area Commander, said: “We’re delighted Midlothian Council has agreed to work with us on this initiative. Many of these vandalism crimes are opportunistic, so having playground tidy ups to clear away anything that could potentially be used to break windows or damage property is a fantastic, back-to-basics approach.

“We want to send out a clear message to vandals that playgrounds and schools are for young people to enjoy, not destroy.

It often costs thousands of pounds to repair vandalised buildings

“It costs hundreds, and often thousands of pounds, for the council to constantly go back and repair vandalised schools. That’s not counting the costs of our police time investigating these crimes.

The money could be better spent

“It must be soul destroying for the teachers, pupils, parents and council staff knowing their school estate, a building at the heart of their community, is being targeted and money spent fixing the damage could be much better spent invested in our children’s education.”

One door alone cost £980 to repair

Every act of vandalism costs the council, and residents, money. Among the list of repairs on council buildings in 2016/17, one repair alone to a vandalised door at Lasswade High School cost £980 to repair while replacing a panel on the Astroturf fence at Newbattle High School, again damaged by vandals, was £168.

The picture shows from left to right: Sergeant Stuart Aitchison, Mason Robertson, 8, P3 from Mayfield, Jorja Allan, 8, P3 Mayfield, St Luke’s head teacher Lindsey Walker, Jake McKeen (Captain America), P4 St Luke’s,  Mayfield head teacher Candy Inglis, Councillor Jim Muirhead, Lucy Sharlottes (Wonderwoman), 6, P2, St Luke’s, Riley O’Brien, 8, P4 St Luke’s, Olivia Lee, 6, P1 St Luke’s, Leo Burke, 8, P3 Mayfield and Sofie Hunter, 7, P3 Mayfield and PC Trevor Newton-Jones.

25 Jun 2017