Falkirk police chief pledge to tackle anti-social behaviour across district
Falkirk's new area commander has told councillors that he and his officers are committed to tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour across the district.
But Chief Inspector Craig Walker also wants to make sure that youngsters who aren't causing trouble can use facilities safely.
He told members of Falkirk Council's Scrutiny Committee that moving on large groups would only displace the problem and lead to young people being chased by officers from place to place.
He said: "When we get reports in of 40 or 50 people in a park, that doesn't mean 40 people are guilty of anti-social behaviour - it might only be one or two.
"So I'm keen not to take a heavy handed approach - because we want our youngsters in those green spaces but we want them using them responsibly.
"So, it's about working with our partners to find those who aren't using them responsibly and deal with them while encouraging others who do want to use them - particularly with the new facilities that are being put into Zetland Park.
"All a heavy-handed approach will do is displace the problem somewhere else and we end up just chasing kids around on a Friday night or a Saturday night."
Presenting the annual report to the committee, CI Walker said that statistics were not yet available for anti-social behaviour.
But he said it was a priority for his officers who have been liaising youth workers to find hot spots and deal with offenders.
CI Walker said that despite the restrictions, officers had been involved in a number of initiatives to engage with communities in a positive, proactive way.
He highlighted work being done by community officers for Camelon and Tamfourhill who have been involved with Easter Carmuirs regeneration, where they are securing funding to have the Multi-Use Games area moved to a better location to minimise anti-social behaviour.
And in the Larbert and Stenhousemuir areas, Constable Graeme Fox is working with Tryst Golf Club - which has long suffered acts of vandalism and minor theft - to build better relationships with local young people.
Police officers have also been involved in Grangemouth's Zetland Park Regeneration Group, which evolved in response to an increase in anti-social behaviour and youth disorder.
In his report, CI Walker said that the Grangemouth community officers continue have a close relationship with the project team developing the park.
He told Grangemouth councillor David Balfour that in his experience 'diversionary' events, such as pop-up football, can be very effective.
"I really see the benefit as long as we can attract the right people to it," he said.
"But if I wasn't convinced of the positive impact, I wouldn't have officers involved."
He is keen not to target them solely at troublemakers which can build resentment - instead he wants to get lots of young people involved.
SI Mandy Paterson added that good work was also being done by school-based officers who were often able to find out what was behind some of the violent behaviour in young people and get them professional help.