Row over rafting trip for graffiti gang suspects

Picture (posed by model): Dan Phillips
Picture (posed by model): Dan Phillips
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A GRAFFITI gang accused of tormenting a neighbourhood could be treated to an outdoor adventure using public funds.

Community leaders are considering the bid to take eight boys aged between 12 and 13 years old – described as having been involved in “vandalism and antisocial behaviour” – on outdoor activities using £1500 of council money.

The youths were allegedly responsible for breaking the windows of a community centre, throwing stones and spraying graffiti across Craigentinny.

If accepted, the project will run for ten weeks and will include five outdoor education sessions and one-to-one work.

One of the activities is likely to be a day out white water rafting. However, one resident, who did not want to be named after being targeted by the yobs, is outraged at the plan to hand them a perk.

He said: “I’m very upset by this. Before Christmas this gang abused my daughter-in-law for being Japanese as I can’t think of any other reason they had a go at her.

“I came out to help her they had a go at me and then when I got up in the morning they had scratched my car and smashed my windscreen.

“I’m really very upset that my rates are paying for rewards for these kids.”

The joint application has been made by The Ripple Project, which aims to improve the lives of people in Restalrig, Lochend and Craigentinny, and the Craigentinny Community Centre.

However, Giacomo Modica, chairman of Craigentinny and Meadowbank community council, said he supported the scheme.

He said: “The funding that’s been applied for is justified. Some of these youngsters will be coming from a broken background and they might feel they are not getting any help or any attention – this isn’t an excuse to give them a free holiday.

“It’s not like we’re targeting hoodlums. We’re trying to get through to them before they become hoodlums. This could, in turn, be beneficial to the community as a whole.”

A spokeswoman for The Ripple Project said it would be “unprofessional” to comment on the application.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “No doubt there are good intentions behind this idea. But the reality is it simply gives the green light to others who may decide to embark on this irresponsible behaviour. This kind of thuggish conduct brings misery to communities, and should be punished instead of rewarded.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said a decision on the application would be made by Craigentinny and Duddingston Neighbourhood Partnership in due course.