School vandalism bill soars

Repair bills are mounting because of vandals
Repair bills are mounting because of vandals

A massive bill of almost £300,000 was spent on repairs at schools that were vandalised last year making Falkirk one of the worst areas in Scotland for the problem.

Falkirk Council spent a total of £281,000 on fixing damage caused by the recklessness in 2010-11, which is depriving communities of much-needed cash for other vital services.

Around £800 worth of damage was done in one incident at Victoria Primary School when a bike shed was wrecked during the summer.

The district was the worst in Scotland spending £12 per head of school age population, worse even than the country’s biggest city, which spent just half that, although Glasgow’s bill was significantly more at £448,310.

Falkirk’s bill was also the third highest in Scotland behind Glasgow and Fife which was £347,779.

According to the figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, school vandalism cost the taxpayer more than £2.3 million last year - £45,000 a week.

Angry Tory councillor Malcolm Nicol said: “Every pound spent on vandalism is a pound away from frontline education. The people who do this need to realise it affects their own communities and families.”

Falkirk Council says it maintains a high level of vigilance in monitoring the problem and believes the figures could be misleading due to “limiting factors” in recording vandalisms.

Gary Greenhorn, head of educational planning and resources, said: “It is very difficult to compare vandalism figures as so many councils now have contracts with external companies under the PPP/PFI framework to operate school buildings.

“Further limiting factors are the ability to ensure actual and accurate recording of vandalism costs as this relies on the definition and interpretation of what has actually caused the damage.

“Also, the ability of financial systems to be able to separately identify the true cost and the extent to which school buildings are being used by or are open to general public and community use. has to be taken into account”

He added: “Education Services is fully committed to a zero tolerance policy towards vandalism and working with our schools and our partners to reduce vandalism costs.”