Social media-obsessed yobs have dispersed from town centre hot spots after businesses were persuaded to switch off their wi-fi.
Police in Glenrothes came up with the very modern tactic to help combat the age-old problem of anti-social behaviour after a study found free Wi-Fi was one of the main attractions for youths congregating around the bus station.
Curbing access to the internet was one of a number of measures taken following the publication of the specially-commissioned security survey into a spate of violence, vandalism and other violations at the start of the year.
Urging business owners to turn off Wi-Fi at key times, combined with a range of other strategies, has led to a dramatic drop in the number of incidents .
Community Inspector Joanne McEwan said firms had to make their own decision on the issue.
“It’s not something the police can do,” she said. “We can’t go around switching off people’s wi-fi but businesses can do it so it doesn’t impact on their customer base.
“It might be they are not open in the evening so it’s no problem for them to switch off their Wi-Fi.”
Mrs McEwan said anti-social behaviour had peaked between 7pm and 9pm each evening and at the weekends.
“Specially trained officers looked at the attractions of loitering and hanging around and found that shelters and places to sit were big draws,” she said.
“We’re finding a more recent one is free Wi-Fi. It’s a modern problem with the advent of social media but it’s one small part of a bigger problem.”
Additional measures taken by police included dedicated patrols in trouble hot spots, the Glenrothes campus cop speaking to teenagers in the town’s three high schools and diversionary tactics.
“All of that was to deal with that spike in the figures and what we have seen is a consistent reduction in minor violence and anti-social behaviour over the last 12 weeks,” the inspector added.
Mrs McEwan is not complacent however as evidence suggests that during the summer troublesome teens tend to gravitate from sheltered areas to parks and open spaces.
She said police were prepared to switch tactics to deal with that if it arose.
But she added: “Children being in an area is not generally a problem. In 99% of the time they are extremely well behaved.
“This is a minority and we are addressing it.”