School pupils asked to help stamp out anti-social behaviour

Pupils throughout Peeblesshire have been asked to help fight vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

By Hilary Scott
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 11:17 am

It’s a crime that blights communities, and a hot topic on the agenda of many community councils throughout the region.

Peebles Community Council has been calling for more pro-active policing for many years. But due to the decline in national police resources, its members have decided on a proactive resolution to the problem, and are asking the youths of communities to join forces.

An anonymous survey has now been sent to every Peebles High School student, asking them if they take part in crimes of anti-social behaviour.

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More importantly, it asks why they think these petty crimes are being committed, and what they think would solve the issue.

There is also a section asking youngsters if they take part in any clubs and activities, and what they would like to see implemented in their communities.

The project to combat anti-social behaviour is supported by Live Borders, SBC and Tweeddale Youth Action.

Community councillor Malcolm Bruce, spoke about the failed attempts to try and engage with the “anti-socialites” in the town.

He told last week’s meeting of the community council, “Collectively we have come to the view that we would like to see data from the kids themselves, to try and figure out what makes them tick.”

Together, with the support of Peebles High School, a survey has been sent to all pupils on the school roll.

Mr Bruce said: “They will be expected to complete it on their school iPad, during pastoral time which is made available to them for this purpose. So they will all be encouraged to state their point of view.”

The data is anonymous and will be recorded by year group, locality and gender.

“With a bit of luck, from the free text boxes, we’ll get an idea what it is causing [anti-social behaviour], not just here, but in Innerleithen and West Linton, which have been blighted by this as well, “ said Mr Bruce.

The results of the survey will be shared with neighbouring community councils to assist in their attempts to find a resolution to the problem.

During a national news interview, Community Action Team sergeant David O’Rourke, said the police cannot resolve anti-social behaviour on their own, and there needs to be better ways of engaging with youths in the community.

Mr Bruce, who was also interviewed, said he was “gratified” to hear the police sergeant acknowledge that police resourcing, nationally, was an issue in terms of dealing with anti-social behaviour.

He said: “It’s a drum that we’ve been beating for quite some time now, and indeed, have raised with MSP Christine Grahame, last month.”

Peebles High School have also gone one step further in trying to prevent anti-social behaviour.

Mr Bruce explained: “We’ve been asked if we would be willing to engage in focus groups with selected pupils from the High School.”

But youth engagement isn’t the only project being worked on to stamp out anti-social behaviour.

Mr Bruce will be requesting funding from SBC to employ a youth worker or street pastor. “We think, as a group, that’s one way of moving this forward, having someone that can come and talk to the kids in real time.”

The results of the data will be reported at next month’s meeting of Peebles Community Council.