Silverknowes v Muirhouse

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Antisocial behaviour is a problem which affects many communities across the Capital to one degree or another.

Whether it is relatively low-level issues such as vandalism and late-night noise or more serious trouble which threatens people’s safety in their own homes, it all takes its toll on our quality of life.

Whatever level it is at, the impact on those directly affected is hard to under-estimate.

Some of the problems reported by residents in Silverknowes are at the higher end of the scale of antisocial behaviour.

No-one who has had burglars break into their home or had their house windows smashed will easily forget the experience. And no one should have to put up with it.

So it is natural that when people feel their homes are under attack that they will demand serious action to put a stop to it. They have every right to expect their homes and the peace of their neighbourhood to be protected.

Does that right extend to building walls and putting up barricades between you and your near neighbours? Surely only the most extreme circumstances warrant such drastic action.

Creating ghetto neighbourhoods is a serious concern if our answer to antisocial behaviour is to build walls around the areas where we think much of it originates. That is a sure sign of failure when a society cannot find an answer to badly-behaved youths other than to cage them in with bricks and mortar.

So where does that leave the people of Silveknowes who are demanding protection from the “thugs from Muirhouse”?

Mark Turley, the city’s director of communities, hits the nail on the head when he says that anti-social behaviour by certain individuals is at the heart of this problem. He is equally right in saying that it must be addressed.

This is a situation which must be dealth with by the police rather than bricklayers. The council also has a role to play through its community safety and social work departments. It is they who must rise to the challenge of tackling those individuals who are spoiling the qualify of life for many in Silverknowes.