Sunday, January 15, 2006

 

Increasing Anti-Social Behaviour Problems

It's late at night and a closedoor in one of the maisonette flats is being kicked in for the second time in a few weeks. It's not an isolated case. Glass litters the pavement at the Cedar st lowrise flats and bit of wood, not some few days installed, covers the glass door.

At the community council the members were concerned. "This is happening all over Woodside!" exclaims one member.

The events of the past few weeks are familiar to most people in Cedar and across Woodside, and the problems have been going on for some time now. The police have stopped attending many incidents and many residents are at the end of their tether. What is all the more shocking is that the vast majority of these incidents are not the result of criminal gangs, drug traffickers or addicts (as much as those are real issues in this area) but are simply some very bored teenagers.

There is little or nothing for the large numbers of 12-13 year olds in this area to do, so as a result they amuse themselves by chucking stones and other bits of rubbish left lying about this area from all the half-assed jobs our various civil authorities (GHA, Queens Cross, Glasgow City Council) have abandoned. They daub grafitti on walls because there's nothing else engaging their creative energies, and they vandalise property because they've grown up in a scheme that has received little or no investment for decades. They are used to seeing live electricity wiring poking out of walls, windows broken, smashed or otherwise hazardous, lifts often unoperational with burnt-out entrances, closes that are covered in litter and dirt, bare, exposed asbestos where there should be walls and grim steel doors boarding up drying rooms filled with pigeon droppings and rubbish. If these kids hadn't grown up in a dilapidated environment and they had activities to do which were fun and burnt off some energy then perhaps they wouldn't spend their time smashing bottles and making a nuisance of themselves.

However the focus of the authorities has been so far to talk tough and be completely ineffective. Mobile street patrols of CCTV are being used to cover up for the fact that the real crime here is that the youth of Woodside have been completely let down by the council and now the GHA, who have between them closed our youth centre and allowed our area to become run-down and completely uninteresting and unengaging for our kids. I've been asking a few kids recently what they think of our area, generally I get told, "It's shite!" We, in the community, should be asking ourselves why our kids think this, and we should be talking to one another to see how we can achieve good youth facilities and an area and community our children can be proud of, not alienated by.

That is not to dismiss crime or the victims of Woodside youths, and there are real problems with drugs and violence in Cedar and the broader Woodside area as well, but we have to recognize that if the social services that we all want were in place and we had a strong and vibrant, clean and pleasant community then we might see a good deal less of the youth crime which is plaguing people at the moment.

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