City is winning war on vandalism

VANDALISM is on the wane in Glasgow.

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Sick thugs infuriated the local community when they destroyed the war memorial in the Rose Garden in the Gorbals
Sick thugs infuriated the local community when they destroyed the war memorial in the Rose Garden in the Gorbals

Police in 2011-12 recorded the sixth consecutive fall in the crime.

The latest drop – to 10,182 cases of vandalism or malicious damage over the 12 months, nearly 200 a week – was relatively small.

But it came on top of a whopping 40% reduction between 2006-07 and 2010-11, according to numbers crunched by the Evening Times for our exclusive Crime on Your Street series.

Police leaders in Glasgow link falling vandalism with drops in other crimes, including violence.

The city still has some of Scotland's highest levels of criminality and anti-social behaviour.

But figures have fallen dramatically in recent years – and over the last six months – for the most serious offences, partly thanks to city-made tactics about to be extended to the rest of Scotland.

Their theory: that cracking down on minor offences by youngsters ultimately can stop those few who go on to commit terrible crimes like assault, is paying off.

Some of the big reductions in vandalism in recent years have come as a result of work tackling graffiti – not least because vandals leave their name or 'menshie' on their work.

"If only other criminals were so stupid," one police officer told the Evening Times when we revealed how vandals upload videos of themselves daubing walls on to the web.

"They get their pals to tape their crimes and then sign their names on the evidence ... now that is daft."

A police database of 'menshies' and gang tags make the culprits easy to identify.

Official figures for vandalisms went from 17,471 in 2006-2007 – the first year of our Crime on Your Street series – to 10,378 in 2010-11.

That figure has held at that relatively low level again this year, at 10,182, an official reduction of nearly 200 offences.

However, more than 10,000 cases of vandalism a year means that thousands of people have suffered.

The toll in 2011-12 included, for example, the horrific vandalism of Glasgow's historic Necropolis in July 2011.

Swastikas and offensive slogans were daubed on headstones. Other graveyards have also been targeted.

Other upsetting incidents included an attack on the sensory garden developed by children at Newhills Secondary School in Garrowhill, which caters for children who get complex additional support.

Police said the crime was "disgusting".

There was a similar attack last year when the nature garden at Lamlash Nursery School, in Cranhill, was destroyed during the October holidays.

More typical incidents included tyre-slashing in Knightswood – some 70 tyres on 35 cars were destroyed in a single night, doing more than £10,000 worth of damage.

At The Evening Times we calculate the neighbourhoods most affected every year to see where the problems are getting worse and where they are getting better.

A look at figures we have collated for every beat in Glasgow in 2011-12 shows that vandalism is most prevalent in the city's peripheral housing schemes.

But North Cardonald had more vandalism incidents that any other beat in Glasgow, a total of 164, up from 93 in 2010-11. But it only narrowly beat the southside's Govanhill West, which had 162, up from 155.

There are parts of the city that are bucking trends for falling vandalism.

Take Maryhill. This beat suffered just 75 cases in 2006-2007, but 120 in 2011-12. This, however, was down from a record 165 in 2008-09.

Meanwhile, it isn't just recorded crime figures that are down for vandalism.

Public complaints about damage to property – the phone calls logged by the police – are also falling.

david.leask@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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