Cllr Graham Kerr of West Community Council is a vociferous proponent of stronger action on litter and over the last two meetings of his organisation he has questioned the police representative present, Sgt Olga Hansen, on litter matters. At the most recent meeting he related to Olga a recent incident that he’d heard about from one of his constituents:
“The lady was crossing the Links near the bandstand and there were some youths in there drinking and throwing the bottles out of the bandstand. She asked them to refrain and pick up the bottles to which she got some foul and abusive language. Fortunately she was actually on the phone at the time, it was her sister that was on the phone, who said, “Get yourself out of there and get home.” She phoned the police and her sister phoned the police. The police went down to the Links
by which time the youths had moved across to the swings but the person who they abused lived nearby there and was able to stop the police car and point them out. The police car went down and got the youths and sent them back to pick up the bottles and then drove off and the youths went skipping and dancing back to their friends.”
Olga asked him what the point he was making was and Graham continued: “When you’ve got somebody who clearly is identified as the culprit[…] surely an example can be made?”
Olga responded that the youths didn’t admit to being the culprits but did go back to pick up the litter. She said: “Quite often dealing with youngsters it’s more humiliating for them in front of their mates, to go and pick up what they may have dropped and tidy plus if they are under 16, they are not going to be reported to the procurator fiscal it is going to be a court children’s panel.”
She then explained how while she was quite happy for officers to actively check litterbugs during quieter periods police resources were often stretched and she illustrated how often they will be going directly from call to call on issues such as assault and child protection.
Graham continued to press his point and Olga then said, quite rightly to this observer, “You weren’t there, the same as I wasn’t there, so I’m not going to criticise any officer and the way they dealt with them at the time.[…] You’ve got somebody’s view on it and I’ve got someone’s view on it.”
The Councillor had more to say though, including: “But the bottle would be lying on the ground and the fingerprints would be there for you to get.”
The Chair Rosemary Young then intervened, “Graham you can take this up if you want to, go along to the Police Station and take it further,” and turning to Olga and Graham in turn she continued, “You’re absolutely right, you weren’t there, you weren’t there. There’s obviously witnesses, but I don’t think this is the place to be airing it. I think we do have a problem occasionally with litter. It’s nice to know the police did turn up and the youths did pick the bottles up.”
Some people would obviously like more done on the subject of litter and what they consider the bad behaviour of some youths in Nairn. It’s worth here perhaps how a question of feral youth played out at the hustings in the run-up to the Highland Council elections earlier this month, here’s a video on a question raised about feral youth.
Are some in the community perhaps too critical of our young people and compared to some places are we getting off lightly? I mentioned Graham’s tale to a friend recently and he had quite an interesting response:
”Kids are kids but the young people in Nairn really are kids compared to many in larger cities who would take a knife to you in the way that they might swear at you in Nairn. There's plenty of roaming space in Nairn that is not policed all the time, impossible to do really unless we get another few hundred CCTV cameras, and even there are going to be places out of the way. Maybe we need drones that fly around Nairn armed with anti kid missiles controlled by the West CC of course
Maybe we're heading towards a
situation whereby walking on the street is no longer acceptable, and the police
will stop and question you as a matter of course US
Kids are only doing what many adults do but in an outside public place, namely drinking, getting pissed, and then taking on the world, but I expect drinking fine wines and shouting at the TV is OK!”
Yes some of our young people are getting pissed but by no means all of them, if there were a couple of thousand youngsters roaming the streets blind drunk every weekend we’d soon be in massive trouble. We live in a society were you can still just about fill a wheelbarrow full of bottles of cheap cider for around £20. Are those youngsters that are causing problems simply following the signals that our society is giving them?
It can’t be easy being young in 2012. As the world changes and our economy declines compared to other parts of the world then it could be argued that many youngsters will not enjoy the opportunities that a lot of us had when we were younger. If they go on to higher education they are saddled with debt when they exit, often to find they are unable to find work after three to four years of studying for a degree which was once the passport to a better job and lifestyle. As they see the rest of us, generally comfortably off compared to what they have to struggle to attain, is it any wonder that a few of them get pissed and make a nuisance of themselves? As a society, yes we should deal with the more unruly ones, but let’s try and offer the youth a bit more.
The Daily Record states: “THE number of young people who are long-term unemployed has shot up by 1155 per cent in less than five years.” Scottish unemployment is around 8% and the youth figure almost three times that according to other online sources. We’ve got a long way to go before we reach
50% plus youth unemployment but we seem to be heading down that route. How much
can the fabric of our society take if this continues? Can we just leave the young to rot and not expect consequences from that? So far there are just one
or two broken bottles on the Links, maybe we should be grateful for that? Spain