Public inconvenience at Wick toilets
THE latest spate of vandalism at the public toilets in Wick's Whitechapel Road has led to the facility now being locked up for much of the day.
Repeated attacks on fixtures and fittings – happening on a daily basis over the past week – have forced Highland Council into taking "desperate measures" to deal with the issue.
A council spokesman said: "It's disappointing to close the facility during certain periods but this type of behaviour can't be tolerated and anyone who witnesses it should report it to Police Scotland.
"It's not fair for those who really require the service but can't have it due to the mindless acts of others."
On Tuesday evening, teens were observed drinking bottled beer and smashing the empties on the pavement and road directly outside the ladies' toilets in Whitechapel Road.
At 8pm police attended the scene. The youths were "spoken to" and they vacated the area.
Just after midnight, however, the police received another report of vandalism at the facility and are urging "anyone who knows who is responsible" to call Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference "0011 of February 19".
The toilets – formerly open 24/7 – are now firmly padlocked shut for much of the day.
Several people interviewed at a bus stop close to the toilets on Wednesday morning said they were disappointed to see them locked up.
One woman said she had just witnessed a young mother having to take her toddler son around the back of a wall adjoining the facility "to do his business, there and then, out in the open".
"You can imagine how she felt about that. She was totally raging," the elderly woman remarked.
Wick and East Caithness councillor Nicola Sinclair said: "It’s appalling to see further vandalism to these toilets. They were due for a substantial refurbishment but we can’t go ahead with this when they are likely to just be trashed again."
Councillor Sinclair has requested an urgent meeting with the council's amenities team.
"We do have CCTV being installed as part of the upgrade to the riverside car park so that might help, but we’ll also need to look at options to get them locked up and secured," she said.
At a meeting of Highland Council's Caithness Area Committee in Wick Town Hall on Wednesday, councillors discussed the matter with police.
"They are certainly aware of the issue but they have limited resources and if another call comes in about a serious crime they have to respond to that as a priority," Councillor Sinclair said.
"The good news is that Caithness is still a very safe place to live, and that’s reflected in our crime statistics.
"What we’re seeing now, sadly, is a small group of people doing a large amount of damage.
"The police can only act on the evidence they have so if members of the public are seeing this, don’t just post it on Facebook – report it to Crimestoppers immediately."