The cost of vandalism in Falkirk schools

Falkirk Council was forced to spend �122,000 on repairing vandalism to schools last year. Most of the damage was done in secondary schools
Falkirk Council was forced to spend �122,000 on repairing vandalism to schools last year. Most of the damage was done in secondary schools

Schools in the Falkirk district are among the worst affected by vandalism in Scotland new figures show.

Falkirk Council’s bill for repairing vandalism damage was £122,000 last year, the third highest in the country.

Figures for the whole of Scotland, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through a Freedom of Information request, show that it cost local authorities £1,045,681 in Scotland to repair damage including graffiti, smashed windows, wrecked bike racks and stolen metal roofs.

The council says around 88 per cent of the total spent on vandalism repairs was in secondary schools relating to damage to mainly doors, windows, fixtures and fittings.

No analysis is currently available to say how much takes place within or outwith school hours.

A council spokesman said: “Vandalism is treated seriously throughout all our schools and it is the responsibility of pupils, staff, parents and the wider local community to report their concerns to the authorities if they witness this taking place.”

West Lothian Council, which covers Linlithgow schools, spent £25,475.

Fife was the worst affected with a £158,000 bill followed by Aberdeen (£143,000), then Falkirk.

The national figure is also likely to be higher as Scotland’s largest local authority in Glasgow and several others did not provide statistics.

The spokesman added: “We would question the accuracy of the figures given for some other authorities and this may imply that each council records this information in a different way.”

The Scottish conservatives are calling for improved security in schools in a bid to cut down on vandalism to save hard-up councils the money they need to spend on repairs.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “There is also a cost to the taxpayer, and that is money that could be reinvested in a far better way, not least in education.

“Perhaps security could be improved in these schools to ensure money can be saved in the long-term.”

Falkirk schools do have a police presence in School Based Officers (SBOs), who are widely welcomed by parents. Part of their job is to educate pupils on good behaviour and the effects the likes of vandalism can have on their schools and wider communities.

However, concerns were raised less than a month ago when plans were revealed to split the time the so-called “campus cops” spend at each school so they can attend more. The council is currently working with Forth Valley Police and head teachers to identify the most effective deployment of SBOs.

The council spokesman added: “There has been no cut in the number of officers in our schools and their reallocation will mean that all eight schools will have a Police presence for all or part of the day – something that previously did not exist.

“How they are located is assessed by demographics of the local area and crime statistics.”

Central Scotland Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell said: “I congratulate the scheme in place in Falkirk at the moment. Many schools and local authorities badly need to ensure arranged working with Police Scotland and have officers in schools which improves relationships with pupils.

“There needs to be a two-pronged approach and part of new policing plans include named officers for every ward, while school based officers provide a safe haven for pupils and help educate them on issues like vandalism.”