In autumn 2018, members of the Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland (CNS) team, working at Sacred Heart Primary School, were told about a recurring problem– vandalism to school property, which prevented the use of the playground and cost the school money.
After discussion with other local projects, CNS found that the issue also affected the local community centre, causing concerns about the risk of fire and safety more generally.
CNS arranged a meeting with all the agencies involved, hosted at the CNS office premises. Staff attended from the school, community centre, local housing association, a youth project, Community Safety and Police Scotland. The aim of the meeting was to understand the problem and to discuss a coordinated response and approach to addressing it. CNS was able to offer an impartial meeting space where people could talk so that concerns and frustrations could be shared and possible solutions and available resources discussed.
Collaboration between all partners and stakeholders allowed for the sharing of relevant information and perspectives so that an appropriate resolution could be reached for any issues within a neighbourhood. Inviting all groups to an impartial meeting space resulted in constructive dialogue that enabled all stakeholders to voice their concerns as well as possible solutions.
Attendees raised a shared concern about a large group of young people (up to fifty, aged 12-19 years) who congregated in the park near to the school and community centre on weekend nights from 5pm until late. As well as alcohol and drug paraphernalia, staff found sleeping bags and condoms. Reports had been made that vulnerable young people had become involved in risky behaviour.
The meeting helped to clarify who was involved in the vandalism, when it was taking place, and which projects/resources might be used to address the problem. As a result, the following actions were agreed:
- An information campaign to encourage local reporting of the issue, so that public services such as Police and Community Safety could be deployed to resolve the problem. This included a leaflet drop to residents, presentations to school children and requests for CCTV resources.
- After reports of the problem increased, Police Scotland prioritised the local area as a MATAC (Multi Agency Tasking & Coordination) zone. This allows the force to dedicate two officers to the neighbourhood, giving the police a more visible presence and allowing for greater intelligence gathering.
- Following discussion with the anti-social behaviour group about concerns around young people engaged in risky behaviours, the local youth project, Urban Fox, was able to propose an initial piece of partnership work with the police. The aim is to build relationships with the young people concerned. Bi-monthly, detailed updates on how partners are engaging with young people in the area are now being shared across the group and supporting cross-organisational activity.
Future meetings will support this initial exploratory work and focus on working with partners to develop longer-term solutions to the issue.