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Crime stats reveal ‘downward trend’ as Caithness cops stamp down on antisocial behaviour and youth disorder


By David G Scott

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Caithness police officers have been making concerted efforts to deal with antisocial behaviour and youth disorder which have plagued the county, it was revealed at a meeting in Watten last week.

Parents of youths are contacted by officers in a bid to open channels of communication to help quell an issue that has seen properties ruined and public conveniences repeatedly targeted in Wick and Thurso by vandals.

Former area inspector for Caithness, Sergeant Stephen Mezals talked about various local initiatives to tackle crime. Picture: DGS
Former area inspector for Caithness, Sergeant Stephen Mezals talked about various local initiatives to tackle crime. Picture: DGS

Former acting inspector for Caithness, Sergeant Stephen Mezals, produced the quarterly review of crime figures for the Caithness area along with a community update at last week’s Association of Caithness Community Councils meeting in Watten Village Hall.

“We’re finding that the work we are doing with Safer Caithness, with Operation Notebook – which targets antisocial behaviour in residential settings – as well as liaising with Social Work, we are finding that youth disorder and antisocial behaviour calls have massively decreased,” said the officer.

The Association of Caithness Community Councils meeting at Watten during which Sgt Mezals spoke. Picture: DGS
The Association of Caithness Community Councils meeting at Watten during which Sgt Mezals spoke. Picture: DGS

“Damage calls are on the downward trend as well and that shows the power of that partnership working for identifying repeat offenders and having the right agency take the right action to provide that support for intervention. That’s reducing these types of calls.

“Probably the most common calls I get from the public, elected members or community councils is about antisocial behaviour and youth disorder. It’s good to see it’s on a downward trend.

Graffiti painted on a building at Wick riverside. This particular area has seen many instances of vandalism in the past. Picture: DGS
Graffiti painted on a building at Wick riverside. This particular area has seen many instances of vandalism in the past. Picture: DGS
Graffiti vandalism on the historic landmark, Wick Pilot House. Picture: Derek Bremner
Graffiti vandalism on the historic landmark, Wick Pilot House. Picture: Derek Bremner

“We’ve also been trying to involve parents a lot sooner when we come across groups of young people who have been behaving in an antisocial way.

“If we can’t get their parents to take them home at that moment, or we can’t take them home ourselves, we’ll get a letter sent to the parents to highlight that child’s behaviour.

“We’re finding that parents are taking that accountability and taking action to stop their child behaving in such a way and it’s making a big difference.”

Vandalism at the former Houston's restaurant in Wick back in 2019. Police now have a system in operation to deal with youth disorder. Picture: DGS
Vandalism at the former Houston's restaurant in Wick back in 2019. Police now have a system in operation to deal with youth disorder. Picture: DGS
Youths outside the Whitechapel toilets in 2019 after the facility was repeatedly vandalised. Picture: DGS
Youths outside the Whitechapel toilets in 2019 after the facility was repeatedly vandalised. Picture: DGS

A summary of figures was presented showing that there were 1233 incidents reported to police across Caithness from March 1 to May 31 and 168 of these incidents (13.63 per cent) were where crimes were committed and were recorded as such. From these calls, and from additional crimes and offences discovered by officers on patrol, there have been 413 criminal charges recorded.

It stipulated that a single criminal incident may involve “multiple criminal charges being recorded”.

The call types can be broken down as follows:

• 204 incidents for assisting members of the public – 1 (0.49 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 126 incidents for concerns for person – 3 (2.38 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 105 incidents for road traffic concerns/hazards – 3 (2.86 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 101 incidents for abandoned or silent 999 calls – zero resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 59 incidents for members of the public inquiring about general police information – zero resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 49 incidents for road traffic collisions – 19 (38.8 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 46 incidents for domestic incidents – 6 (13 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 36 incidents for neighbour disputes – zero resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 31 incidents for reports of a disturbance – 8 (25.8 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

• 30 incidents requests for assistance from external agencies – 1 (3.33 per cent) resulted in a crime being recorded.

Wick police station. The force revealed initiatives to tackle crime locally. Picture: DGS
Wick police station. The force revealed initiatives to tackle crime locally. Picture: DGS

Some of the main priorities for local policing included the following comments on activities being undertaken locally:

• Officers continue to carry out patrols in “hotspot areas” for antisocial behaviour and are seeing a reduction in this call type.

• In a bid to control violence in pubs and clubs, officers patrol licenced premises and engage with staff in order to deter and disrupt alcohol-related violence. Such patrols will increase throughout the summer season

• Officers are also continuing to make referrals to the NHS Drug and Alcohol Service for those assessed as being at immediate risk of serious harm through drug use.

• Officers continue to patrol the county’s roads and remain vigilant to poor driver behaviour – this has resulted in 125 cases raised for road traffic offences.

There is also a concerted effort to deal with tackling serious organised crime and police were called to 29 reports of theft; 16 reports of fraud and 2 reports of theft by housebreaking.




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