Things are reaching crisis point in a once quiet village street with residents admitting they are now scared to leave their homes.
Last week The Falkirk Herald reported on the anti-social behaviour which has blighted the Ure Crescent area of Bonnybridge for several years. This week more residents came forward to give their own stories and all accounts point to one family in particular.
None of the people who spoke up wanted to be named for fear of reprisals being carried out against them and their property, highlighting the level of fear in the street, which is now patrolled daily by police.
One resident said: “The police drive around here all the time. In one month I think the street had 39 visits by officers. They are never away from the place and regularly circle the street now.
“It’s just horrendous and is going from bad to worse – when you walk out the door it’s like you’ve got a target on your back.
“We thought we were alone in this, but it’s fair to say the whole street is fed up with the family now.
“The police and the council don’t seem to be able to do anything to stop them. They seem to be untouchable. It seems to me they have more rights than we do.
“When I told police about what was happening they told me not to drive past the family’s house.
“Some of this seems quite petty, but when you add it up over the days, months and years it is quite bad.”
There are now real concerns things could escalate from threats and smashing windows and damaging vehicles to actual physical violence.
One of the main reasons for the rising tension is the arrival in the street of a youth who has allegedly been spotted carrying around a knife.
One resident said: “It’s now getting to crisis point. We now have someone in the street who can do some serious harm to people.”
Another added: “My child has been told they will be coming to burn down the house on Halloween and I will be getting stabbed – they said ‘We’re going to get your dad stabbed on Halloween’.”
According to householders, when people do try to intervene or confront the family about their behaviour they then become a target themselves.
“Every day you go out it’s the same, you’ve got a wee child telling you to f*** off. The family is basically trying to intimidate you and get you to lose your rag so you respond and they play at being the victim so it’s you that gets into trouble.
“The police have advised us not to respond to the threats, but it’s getting harder. The family knows how the system works, they know what they are doing.
“They make false accusations against people, so police have advised us to put in CCTV and never go anywhere alone so we have witnesses to back us up in case they accuse us of anything.”
Residents stated the family have even been known to harass people in Falkirk town centre and have also phoned up workplaces to make false accusations against them.
An elderly couple who lived in the street for over 20 years were forced to move out of their home because of the behaviour and they cannot sell their house because no one wants to move there.
It was stated the family had been forced out of a number of housing schemes in the past.
“Someone from Stenhousemuir told us they had just got rid of them and that we were in for pure hell.”
Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson, Scottish justice minister is well aware of the anti-social behaviour problem, especially in Ure Crescent and has been talking and corresponding with residents.
He believes Falkirk Council has a part to play in finding a solution to the problem and not simply moving it on to another area.
He said: “I have been assisting constituents with this matter for a number of months in order to find a resolution.
“It’s important Falkirk Council works with local residents to tackle this issue and finds a resolution to the problems they are experiencing, and, if necessary, to use its existing statutory powers.”
The issue was raised at Falkirk Council’s executive committee last week through a motion put forward by Councillor Billy Buchanan.
He said: “All councillors will be aware of anti-social behaviour.
“Over the years the situation has become worse due to, I believe, the lack of any direct action to deal with it.
“These individuals make their neighbours’ lives a misery and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
“I don’t know how many people over the years have contacted me because they simply cannot take any more of this anti-social behaviour and have given up their homes to live in peace and quiet.”
Councillor Buchanan’s motion was calling on the Scottish Government to toughen up legislation on anti-social behaviour.
However, members of the executive committee instead voted to reaffirm the council’s zero tolerance stance against anti-social behaviour and forward the issue to their scrutiny committee to see if the council could come up with more robust measures when dealing with the issue.
FAMILY CLAIM: ‘We are the victims here’
The family allegedly at the centre of the anti-social behaviour problems in Ure Crescent got in touch with The Falkirk Herald this week to give their side of the story.
Speaking on Wednesday, the mother, who did not want to be named, claimed she and her children were being singled out and they were actually the victims in this case.
She said: “When I first moved here I had my tyres slashed and threats were made. I’ve had lots of things done to me and I don’t know where to turn. It’s like there is a clique of neighbours who get together and threaten me.
“It’s got right out of hand now, but we have been targeted big time since the day we moved in. My children have been threatened and targeted.”
She added that the police and social workers have been told about these threats and were now working to help them.
Chief Inspector Damian Armstrong, Falkirk area commander, said: “Officers are working closely with residents and are dealing robustly with crimes and other incidents as they occur. We also work together with our other partners to assist them in addressing the broader causes of anti-social behaviour and remain committed to supporting them.
“We would encourage anyone with concerns to report anti-social behaviour while it is happening.”