Anti-social behaviour 'serious and escalating' in Wick street
ANTI-social behaviour in a street in Wick has "gone beyond the pale", according to a resident.
The person, who does not want to be identified for fear of repercussions, says the problem in Dunnett Avenue has been getting worse over the past six months.
Police Scotland is aware of the concerns and has issued a letter to residents in the neighbourhood.
The person said: "It is serious and escalating. People have complained to Highland Council but nothing is done about it."
"This anti-social behaviour has been been ongoing for a couple of years but has been getting worse in the past six months and was really bad last weekend. It has gone beyond the pale.
"Something needs to be done about it."
The person, who claims to speak for many of the residents, says the issues relate mainly to vandalism, graffiti, loud music and partying and says a gate on one property was "torched" recently.
"There have been multiple complaints to the police and the council as people fear for their personal safety but Highland Council seems unable or unwilling to deal with it. They tell you to phone the police but, ultimately, the buck stops with them. At the end of the day it is their responsibility. They have the power to evict people, not the police.
"The council has a duty to tenants and to people who own their property. What is happening impacts on the quality of life and people's assets as well, but nothing is being done regarding robust and appropriate action."
There have been multiple complaints to the police and the council as people fear for their personal safety
According to the resident, when property is damaged the council incurs the cost to carry out the repairs.
Police Scotland confirmed it is aware of the anti-social behaviour in the area and has sent a letter – a copy of which has been seen by the John O'Groat Journal – to residents. It was written by Inspector Alasdair Goskirk and says the police and partnership agencies know about the issues.
"Through the Safer Caithness initiative, Police Scotland works with the Highland Council and other housing providers to reduce the impact that such behaviour has on the local community," the letter says.
It stresses that Safer Caithness can only work effectively when reports of anti-social behaviour are made when they are happening or as soon as possible afterwards.
The letter lists numbers that can be called to report incidents.
Caithness civic leader Willie Mackay, a Highland councillor for Wick and East Caithness, said a person had contacted him anonymously about anti-social behaviour in Dunnett Avenue at the end of the year and again last weekend.
He says it is the only complaint he has received but is confident "answers can be found" to any problems.
"I have every confidence the housing department will address any concerns but if criminal activity is taking place then that is a matter for the police and I have every confidence Police Scotland will address these issues," Councillor Mackay said.
Asked if other residents may be worried about coming forward, he replied: "There is no use living in fear. There are ways and means of reporting incidents without being identified.
"People should take advantage of these facilities and not be worried. I would be quite prepared to speak to anyone with concerns in Dunnett Avenue or any other place."
A Highland Council spokesperson said: “Council or housing association tenants, private tenants and homeowners all have the right to live safely and peacefully. We are working with the police to make sure this happens.
"The council has written to our tenants advising them to report any anti-social behaviour to police.”