School vandalism repair bill more than doubles in year

Vandals targeted Canal View Primary in February 2015. Picture: Scott Taylor

Vandals targeted Canal View Primary in February 2015. Picture: Scott Taylor

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THE repair bill for vandalism in Edinburgh schools has more than doubled in 12 months.

Figures show the cost of vandal attacks on city schools has shot up from £36,635 in 2013/14 to £82,768 in 2014/15.

These are supposed to be places of learning for future generations, but instead too many criminals see them as fair game for hooliganism.

John Lamont

Conservatives claimed schools were too often being seen as “fair game” for hooliganism and they called for better security to deliver long-term savings.

Across the Lothians, the bill for repairing damage caused by vandals totalled more than £150,000.

The toll of vandalism in the Capital included thousands of pounds of damage caused to schools and community buildings in Wester Hailes when a gang of teenagers went on a wrecking spree in February last year.

Staff and pupils at Canal View Primary in Wester Hailes arrived at the school to find that 17 windows had been smashed. Teachers had to hoover up the broken glass in their classrooms before the children were able to start their lessons.

Nearby Wester Hailes Education Centre, Health Centre and Hailesland Children’s Centre were also targeted. And in March pupils at Murrayburn Primary, Sighthill, were left devastated after a bus they were using as an outdoor classroom was gutted in a fire thought to have been started by vandals.

The cost of school vandalism also doubled in Midlothian – from £10,715 to £23,286.

In East Lothian it increased from £21,123 to £25,189. And in Midlothian, the vandalism repair bill for the past year was £25,475, but the council did not provide a figure for the previous year.

Figures obtained through Freedom of Information by the Scottish Conservatives show vandalism in schools across the country cost taxpayers more than £1 million last year.

Fife had the biggest vandalism bill at £158,000 last year, followed by Aberdeen, which spent £143,000.

The cash went into repairing a range of damage including graffiti and stolen metal roofs.

Other examples of the vandalism included smashed windows, vandalised bicycle racks and even repairs to a toilet pipe which had been jammed with cans and bottles.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Vandalism of any kind is completely unacceptable. But to inflict schools with this type of behaviour is even worse.

“These are supposed to be places of learning for future generations, but instead too many criminals see them as fair game for hooliganism.

“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.”

Edinburgh education Convener, Councillor Paul Godzik, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see vandalism at our schools. These types of incidents are not only disruptive to staff and pupils, but cost thousands to rectify, money which could be better spent on improving children’s education. We will continue to work with police to tackle this anti-social behaviour. I’d urge the public to help us by reporting acts of vandalism to schools.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com