MSP hits out over £30,000 school vandalism bill

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VANDALISM at Borders schools cost the local authority almost £30,000, a freedom of information request has revealed, writes Kenny Paterson.

Conservative MSP John Lamont lodged the question after 27 wall panels on the new extension at Tweedbank Primary were scratched at a cost of £1,500 last month.

Three youths were later charged, but Scottish Borders Council (SBC) leader and local councillor David Parker described the act as “frustrating and disappointing”.

In 2010/2011 school year, £1,234 was spent on Tweedbank nursery and primary after vandalism incidents but the worst hit school in the region was Burnfoot in Hawick, which had a bill of £4,382 from 22 attacks.

Mr Lamont, the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire representative at Holyrood, is demanding tougher action.

He said: “It is worrying that so much money is being spent repairing the damage caused by vandals in our schools.

“When school budgets are already tight, this is a huge amount of money diverted away from other areas of education.

“Pupils in the Borders deserve the best education that we can provide, but this is harder to do when so much money is being spent repairing acts of vandalism.

“Such acts are totally irresponsible and we need to start tackling this problem.

“Not only is much tougher action required to punish those caught vandalising school property, we also need to attack the root of this problem.

“Those committing vandalism need to know the harm that their acts cause, not only to the school but to the local community. By teaching them the consequences of these actions maybe they can learn that it is not an acceptable thing to do.

“What is clear is that we need to take urgent action now.”

Vandalism this year include broken windows and lighting at Burnfoot, with the two incidents costing over £600 in total.

A SBC spokesman added: “It is disappointing that this amount of money is having to be used to repair damage caused by vandalism.

“We will continue to monitor CCTV of schools and work closely with police when there are incidents of this nature, and we are continually educating our pupils to be responsible citizens.”

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman added: “As with all crime, we treat acts of vandalism very seriously and will fully investigate crimes of this type.

“We rely on the Scottish Borders public to assist us with this and this was demonstrated recently when a vandalism incident at Tweedbank Primary School was detected thanks to the assistance of a local man.”

10 most heavily vandalised Borders schools in 2010/11

Burnfoot Primary, Hawick £4,382

Hawick High £3,935

Peebles High £1,724

Philiphaugh Primary, Selkirk £1,696

Knowepark nursery and 
 primary, Selkirk £1,433

Stow £1,240

Tweedbank nursery
 and primary £1,234

Wilton Primary, Hawick £1,168

Greenlaw £944

Selkirk High £864

Total £18,620