Police have declared a blitz on drunken teenage gangs in Perth city centre, amid a worrying rise in antisocial behaviour and violent crime.
Officers say there is growing concern that more and more youngsters gathering on the streets of the Fair City are arming themselves with knives and other weapons.
And there has been a recent spate of reports of elderly people being shouted at, verbally abused and intimidated by gatherings of “hundreds” of rowdy, drink-fuelled youngsters.
Matters came to a head last month, when a 15-year-old boy was stabbed while out with friends. Police said the youngster nearly died.
Police Scotland on Friday announced Operation Stung to clampdown on antisocial behaviour over the winter months.
Officers will ramp up patrols in hang-out spots in the city centre, Moncrieff Island and both south and north inches.
They will also target shops selling alcohol to under 18s.
Meanwhile Perth and Kinross Council, street pastors and community wardens will offer advice and support to youngsters, while signposting them to youth work activities they could take part in.
With house parties banned, there has been an increase in outdoor gatherings. A police spokesman said: “Police contact with young people routinely finds they are under the influence of alcohol, often to the extent they are incapable of looking after themselves or others.
“Young people are regularly conveyed home to a parent or carer, and on some occasions arrested due to their conduct towards the officers.”
Chief Inspector Graham Binnie, Perth and Kinross Local Area Commander said that parents should play their part in the operation. “Police officers will always target those responsible for violence and those who wish to supply alcohol or controlled substances to young people in contravention of current legislation,” he said.
“Our intention is also to keep young people on the periphery of anti-social behaviour and violence safe and involve young people more in responses to community and policing issues, particularly in light of the constraints apparent as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
He urged parents to make sure they knew where their children were, who they were with and how they can be contacted.
Sheena Devlin, executive director of education and children’s services at Perth and Kinross Council added: “We know the vast majority of young people in Perth & Kinross do not engage in anti-social behaviour.
“We also understand that the constraints as a result of the pandemic have prevented children and young people from socialising as normal.”
She said: “Youths who are congregating are behaving in a manner that is upsetting to many others, and they are also putting themselves at risk of Coronavirus infection.”