Move family before they hurt us ... or we hurt them

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Police and local authority staff were given a stark ultimatum by a community near breaking point over one family’s ongoing anti-social behaviour.

Bonnybridge residents gathered in the local primary school last night for a public meeting organised by the village’s community council. For over two hours householders painted a bleak picture of life in Ure Crescent, which they said had become a street from hell ever since the family in question had moved in – after they had reportedly been moved on from another area because a similar situation had developed.

One resident said: “They will have to remove this family for their own protection. You will have to work with them to rehouse them for their own safety. It’s us who are suffering, not them – it’s been absolute hell.

“I nearly went for one of the children.”

The fear expressed to members of the Police Scotland and Falkirk Council was ordinary people were being driven to distraction by this one family and things would maybe escalate to such a point that either one of the family would seriously injure someone or a resident, pushed too far, would end up badly hurting one of the family members and get arrested and charged for it.

“Something has got to be done, otherwise someone is going to take the law into their own hands and an innocent person will end up in jail.”

An elderly householder said: “I’ve lived in this street for 40 years and I’m afraid to go out into my front garden. I was asked if I would consider moving, but why should I be the one who has to move?”

One woman said she was out shopping with her daughter when someone told her there were eight youngsters outside waiting for her to come out.

She said: “I’m almost 50 years of age and I was actually terrified to leave the shop because these children would attack us.”

The very act of attending last night’s meeting was enough to make people fear reprisals – and it was stated that some residents did not attend the meeting because they were concerned for their safety.

One resident said: “There has been a direct threat made on all our cars and all our windows because we attended this meeting tonight.”

Householders were well aware this one family were stretching limited police resources.

“Police were here ten times in six days. I didn’t see any police one morning and joked to my husband, they must have slept in – but a wee while later they were back again.”

Community Inspector Martin Rutland said: “We have been working in your area of Bonnybridge for quite some time, responding to calls, dealing with complaints and reporting them to the relevant authorities.

“We are well aware of the issues ongoing in Ure Crescent. Our job is to respond to what you tell us. We can’t do much unless you tell us about it – you have my assurance every reported incident will be followed up.

“There are things I could say that would ease your concerns but I cannot tell you specific details.”

Inspector Rutland admitted the communication between police and the community could improve and he and community sergeant Blair Rennie, who just started his job in the area three weeks ago, asked residents which methods would be best to keep them up to speed with what police are doing in the area.

Sgt Rennie said: “If we don’t tell the public what we’re doing, they will assume we’re doing nothing.”

Residents were assured every reported incident would be used as evidence in an overall case being built up against anti-social behaviour in the area.

Inspector Rutland said: “We completely understand what you are saying and we hear it from you on a daily basis. Bonnybridge and Ure Crescent are now our number one priority with additional opportunities being provided for residents to engage with Blair and his team.”

It was stated the family in question were known to make false accusations against people on a regular basis.

“How is it they make an accusation and police investigate it, but you will not take all our words about this family?”

Inspector Rutland responded: “We have got to take everyone at face value, but it’s a crime to waste police time.”

Falkirk Council housing service manager Steve Bentley said the system in place is sufficient to deal with situations like this, although, like Inspector Rutland, he would not talk about the specific family at the centre of the issue.

He said: “We completely understand things are really difficult for you, but we need to consider their needs because we are a social housing provider. Everyone needs a place to live and, in this area, it is Falkirk Council’s responsibility to provide this. “

Residents were concerned for the children in the family and asked if they could be removed from this environment to a caring household.

“Give the kids a chance – split them up from the parents and give them nurturing families. These children are allowed to do what they want when they want. Over the last two years there has been no change other than things getting worse.

“The family’s children are now getting older and they are battering our children. Why have they been dumped in Bonnybridge so long? What have the family got on the council?

“Why have they been moved from other areas but we have to keep them? Are they so difficult to deal with nobody is going to step up and deal with them?

“It’s like no one service is going to deal with them because it’s just too much like hard work. Why do the needs of that one family come before the needs of all these other families?”

It was stated the family in question were not technically breaching their tenancy agreement because they were not damaging their own property, although they were allegedly damaging other people’s homes and vehicles.

Residents also learned the council does not issue parents with warnings over the behaviour of their children.

The mother of the family in question got in touch with The Falkirk Herald in October and stated she and her children were actually the victims in all this, with residents ganging up against them ever since they had moved into the street.