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Council urges locals to take a stand and report vandalism after fire raising in Thurso toilets and other Highland facilities

By David G Scott

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A significant rise in vandalism and fire raising at public toilets across the Highland Council area has prompted the local authority to urge local people to report vandals to the police.

Over the past two months there has been a significant rise in the amount of vandalism, particularly fire raising at numerous public toilets across the Highlands including Thurso, Station Brae, Fort William, at Strathpeffer, and in Alness.

These facilities offer a vital service to many people (delivery drivers, key workers in the NHS and care services, and council staff) and having to close them to deal with vandalism impacts on many people including locals and visitors to the region.

This public toilet in Thurso has been affected by vandalism in the past.
This public toilet in Thurso has been affected by vandalism in the past.

Highland Council has been working hard to maintain and keep open as many public conveniences as possible and to retain or expand facilities in partnership with communities where possible. During the pandemic as people wished to exercise more; get outdoors and travel across the region the public level of demand and interest in public toilets has been high.

Debbie Sutton, Highland Council’s amenity services manager said: “We ask people to be respectful of the facilities and report any concerns over misuse. Some facilities are locally-run by the community so the vandals are simply damaging the efforts of their own families, friends, and neighbours.

“Graffiti and fire raising while not only criminal is a total waste of taxpayers’ money and diverts resources from council works and services. It's vital that our public toilets are safeguarded and no more are lost before the 2022 tourism season begins.

“We urge anyone with information on vandalism in their local public toilets to contact Police on 101 or to phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Thurso fire station.
Thurso fire station.

Police superintendent Maggie Pettigrew said: “We are acutely aware of the disruptive impact antisocial behaviour and associated issues such as vandalism has on a community.

“Local officers work closely with partners to address these issues and find meaningful long-term solutions to prevent these issues from arising. We also work identify those involved where offences are identified. Vandalism like this is at the very least mindless and has the potential to result in far more serious consequences."

Area commander Derek Wilson, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s local senior officer for Highland, said: “Deliberate fires have the potential to cause injury and even death or cause devastating damage to our environment and properties. They are a needless drain on emergency service resources at a difficult time.

“Our firefighters and community action teams have been and will continue to work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages. We also ask parents, guardians, and carers to help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks and consequences of deliberate fire setting.

“We welcome the ongoing support of our local communities and by following all of our safety guidance, everyone can help to reduce the risk of fire.”

For more information visit www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/outdoors/deliberate-fires/

The council provides a map of public convenience locations on its website at: www.highland.gov.uk/publictoilets

The local authority aims to have its public toilets opened 24/7, however in some cases it may need to change the hours or close a toilet temporarily due to operational issues and vandalism.

If you witness vandalism please report vandals to Police on 101 or phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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