Dundee council forced to pay £450k clean-up bill due to school vandals

Glazier Norrie Harris making repairs at St Luke’s and St Matthew’s Primary.

More than half of the vandalism reported to Dundee City Council over the past five years occurred in schools.

Figures released in response to a freedom of information request revealed the cash-strapped council, which faces nearly £16 million of cuts this year, has had to pay £942,965 to repair damage caused by vandals since 2013.

There have been 2,795 incidents recorded over the past five years. More than half (1,600) occurred in schools, leaving the local authority with £450,494 in repair and clean-up costs.

North East region Tory MSP Bill Bowman said: “Such a massive waste of public money is particularly galling at a time when Dundee faces shrinking council budgets. These threaten to cut vital services to the core.

“I’m sure people would have liked this money to be spent educating their children, instead of cleaning up vandalism. Respect should be learned in the home and reinforced by education. Destroying public property is a crime which drags everyone down.”

The figures show the council has had significant success in reducing incidents of vandalism. There were 249 incidents in schools in 2017, which cost £66,340 to repair. This was down from 304 incidents the previous year, which cost £80,892. The number of incidents in schools peaked in 2013 at 453, an average of more than one a day. These cost £131, 639 to repair.

Across Dundee there have been 2,795 instances of vandalism since 2013. Again, the general trend is an annual decline in incidents from 2013, when 720 cases were reported, costing £267,456 to repair.

There were 657 incidents the next year and 448 in 2015. The number of incidents rose again to 511 in 2016 before falling to 459 cases last year.

The 2017 repair bill was £159,468.

There were a number of high-profile cases of vandalism in Dundee last year including a deliberate fire in a Whitfield playpark with £15,000 of damage.

The community safety and public protection committee convener, SNP councillor Alan Ross, said: “We take the issue of vandalism across the city very seriously.

“We work in partnership with Police Scotland in anti-vandalism education efforts with young people.”