Managers and users of community buildings met with local police officers on Thursday 23rd March 2017, to discuss disruptive behaviour and vandalism in the village, and try to find solutions together.
The meeting was well-attended, demonstrating the level of concern, and was useful in finding out others’ experiences of dealing with issues.
Evening classes have been disrupted by young people running through the Hall, throwing stones inside and outside at the windows. Laser pens have been used through the windows. Fire doors have been found open along with reports of unlawful entry to the building at night and photos appearing on Snapchat. Staff check fire doors on arriving and leaving the building. All regular hall hirers/key holders have been asked to check that fire doors are properly closed before they leave.
Lights vandalised at the skate park have now been put back on. Drainpipes have been ripped out and glass smashed. Scottish Power were called out to isolate the electricity to make it safe. Incentives like free electricity cards, which normally cost £2 each, have not stopped vandalism. Patrols of the area do not work because people can be seen approaching. Those who run off often leave alcohol behind. The police will attend the next skatepark meeting.
Littering at the School Loch
The School Loch is littered with alcoholic drinks containers, water bottles and the remainder of fires made from planks from the boardwalk. As well as drinking going on, which can intimidate others from using the School Loch, there is the threat to wildlife.
There is a proposal to designate the Kettle Lochs as a Local Nature Reserve with the support of the community and landowners. This includes the School Loch. Highland Council’s Countryside Ranger Service have put on a display of information in the Muir Hub.
Plans for a litter pick will be posted soon.
The library has also suffered disruption from young people running through the corridor when the door is left open for library users. Highland Council have been asked to check that cameras are working, which would help with surveillance.
Martin Forbes’ properties
The door of the empty shop owned by Martin Forbes remains in a dangerous condition where the glass panel has been smashed, allowing access to the building. A window of the flat above Blythswood Care appears to be open/damaged too. This has been reported to Highland Council to find out what action they can take when the owner cannot be contacted.
There have been ongoing reports from residents about houses being egged and knocking on windows. Also, speeding. The police have the registration of a driver they plan to visit.
Advice from the police
The meeting ended with the police advising on what we can do together to deal with these problems. They urged people to try not to fall for incidents where the perpetrators are looking for a reaction, the ‘thrill of the chase,’ as this can incite them to repeat the incident.
The police speak to young people, and if necessary, their parents. In most cases, this works. The police also intend to patrol in plain clothes. They can advise on costs and suppliers for installing CCTV cameras, which can be monitored on i-pads.
The police can put a crime update in each edition of Muir Matters. They already provide a monthly crime update to the Community Council.
The police emphasised the importance of reporting incidents as they happen. They understand that people can be afraid of repercussions. However, people can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, give information online, or phone 101 (a call centre) and ask to be put through to Dingwall. They encourage people to report matters, no matter how trivial they seem, and not to hesitate to ask for advice.
The police need evidence of complaints to justify use of resources, e.g. plain clothes patrols over the weekend. It takes 10-15 reports per month for an area to get attention. The responsibility for making the Muir of Ord a more enjoyable place to live and work belongs to the whole community and the police need their support to be more effective in dealing with crime.
Football for under 15s and under 17s
Good news! Football for under 15s and under 17s is coming to the village soon. Around 12 Scottish Football Association (SFA) coaches have been appointed who are due to go through the Disclosure Scotland process. Easy access to football training aims to give young people a focus in their free time, helps them to build fitness and skills, doing something they enjoy.