Fears raised after 200 partying teens trash Inverleith Park
Hundreds of teenagers have been meeting up for parties in a Stockbridge park, sparking fears ahead of Bonfire Night.
About 200 15 and 16-year-olds from all over the city are thought to have converged on Inverleith Park just over a week ago, triggering the alarm.
Police have contacted schools after drinks cans, condoms and sanitary towels were found strewn across flowerbeds and a newly restored sundial was damaged.
Seven young people have been charged in connection with nuisance and vandalism at the park and officers are continuing high visibility patrols in the area.
Inspector Jonny Elliott said: "It is disappointing to see our young people showing disrespect to the areas in which they live and attend school, and we work closely with schools and local communities to encourage responsible behaviour.
"Many partnership organisations and charities provide facilities and activities for young people to attend and we would continue to urge parents to ensure they know where their children are and what they are doing."
Insp Elliot said the local community was prompt to report any issues to allow them to assess and attend, while urging anyone witnessing the disorder to contact police on 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress.
"There's been a gradual build up of youngsters coming along,” said Friends of Inverleith Park convener Pam Barnes, praising prompt action from police.
She added: “They're not just from one school. With social media they can let their friends know where they're going.
“Most are all right, it's just a small minority that damage things - it doesn't take many to spoil things.”
At least one nearby school, the independent Stewart's Melville in Queensferry Road, has e-mailed parents warning of anti-social behaviour "turning ugly in recent weeks" and "spilling over into Stockbridge."
The email, which says the problems stretch back to the summer holidays, says "a group of over two hundred, drawn from schools all over Edinburgh, is now regularly congregating."
It adds: "The Police are particularly concerned about Halloween and Bonfire Night in the immediate future."
A spokeswoman for Stewart's Melville confirmed that they, along with other schools, was supplied with the information and asked to pass it on, adding: "Whilst we believe this is not a particular problem for our schools, we have a duty of care to inform our parents.”
Tory Inverleith councillor Iain Whyte, said: "Any growing issues of anti-social behaviour emanating from youth gatherings will be an obvious concern to local residents.
"I know there are already widespread concerns about associated vandalism and noise but the young people involved will also be putting themselves at danger of exploitation if they are drinking heavily in public places."
Cllr Whyte praised the work of local community police but said they need further support from the council's community safety team, schools and youth services to ensure enough resources are in place to deal with the problem.
He added: “Parents also need to play their part. They need to take responsibility and I would encourage them to check where their children are and ensure they are safe and not committing anti-social behaviour.
"Young people have a right to gather together and enjoy themselves but not in a way that involves criminality or causes problems for the rest of the community.”
The anti-social behaviour warning sent to schools and parents comes ahead of Bonfire Night.
It was revealed earlier this month that police could use a full range of riot equipment and set up strict dispersal zones if trouble during this year's events get out of hand.
During last year’s Guy Fawkes events, emergency services tallied up more than 250 calls over “dangerous use of fireworks and antisocial behaviour”. Fireworks were hurled by youths, causing an injury to a police sergeant.
The City of Edinburgh Council has drawn up plans to assist police and minimise antisocial behaviour this November.
Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan, vice convenor of Culture and Communities and chair of the Community Safety Partnership, said that protecting communities from harm during Bonfire Night is their "priority."