The huge cost of vandalism both socially and financially

RE vandalism and its consequences.

Following the recent incidents of vandalism at the Spa (steps) and the Star map, your report on the attack at the Peasholm Cafe (Evening News, July 22) will undoubtedly increase your readers’ sense of frustration that the authorities seem to have made little if any progress in their attempts to find a solution to this problem. Understandably, in all circumstances, an unenviable task.

Even in the town centre with increased police activity (for how long) during “throwing out time” at the clubs and pubs, and CCTV cameras in key positions, there is almost daily evidence of shop windows having been smashed and an increasing number of premises where the owners have had to install shutters. What hope then for the security of the many vulnerable structures situated within our borough’s hundreds of acres of parks and open spaces?

I think the problem goes back over several decades, possibly around the beginning of our society’s “anything goes” culture in the 1960s. Up until that time, there were incidents which, by today’s standards, can be described as acts of mischief mainly attributed to youngsters on the council estates, for which, if caught in the act, they received a clip round the ear from the local bobby. Since then the situation has escalated into a sickening incidence of wanton destruction.

We must, therefore, consider the cost, both financial and social, of this criminal activity. I remember reading a few years back that the cost at that time was £200,000 per annum, but have no recent figures with which to compare the current situation.

However, I have wondered about the cost of structures which I first noticed a few months ago, viz, a substantial stretch of metal railings around the stone-built supports at both ends under Valley Bridge. It would appear that these railings which are approximately 8ft high with spiked tops were deemed necessary simply in order to prevent graffiti on the support girders of the bridge.

Amazingly, there is evidence of someone having risked life and limb to clamber 30 metres or so along the girders to perform their “artwork”.

So far as the social aspect is concerned, vandalism has cost us the facility of many public toilets around town, and also shelters such as the two in St Nicholas gardens, and the seating in many others, notably at the top of Plantation Hill, and at the south end of Foreshore Road. Add to this, the sight of the boarded-up windows of all our beach chalets. Many will remember the days when, in spite of unprotected glazed windows, one could safely leave many items of home comforts overnight without any worries of interference. In the South Bay, where my late wife held a chalet for many years, the requirement of security measures coincided with the decline of the South Bay pool with the resultant loss of legitimate footfall in that area.

I’m sure that your readers can name many other examples.

Your headline “Who did it?”, gives food for thought. Are the vandals products of family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, or social deprivation etc? For example, a problem, initially, for the sociologists. Or, simply, individuals who seem hellbent on destruction “for kicks”. If the latter, then I think many will agree with a policy of zero tolerance, and certainly in more legislation in favour of both the police and the courts.

Charles Braithwaite

Trinity Road