Drunken teenagers are dicing with death on Perth’s railway tracks, Police Scotland has warned.
Officers say they were alarmed to discover groups of underage drinkers gathering on trainlines near the city’s South Inch.
Locals said there was very little to stop youngsters climbing onto the tracks and have called for higher fences and improvements to security.
The issue came to light during heightened police patrols as part of Operation Stung, a new city centre blitz on antisocial behaviour.
Police agreed to step up patrols at weekends after a spate of complaints about “intimidating” groups of youngsters roaming streets and parks after dark. There was concern about a rise in the number of youths out in Perth carrying knives or other weapons.
So far, officers have identified 15 young people who were involved in antisocial behaviour, and four who were deemed at such a high risk of harm through drink they were taken home to their parents.
Now British Transport Police have joined the campaign, after officers found a group of youngsters hanging out on tracks just yards from Perth train station.
Chief Inspector Graham Binnie, Perth and Kinross Local Area Commander, said: “Something very concerning that came to light was that some of these young people, whilst under the influence of alcohol, had been on the railway line near to the South Inch tunnels.
“Not only is it a criminal offence to trespass on the railway line, it is extremely dangerous and can have tragic consequences.”
He said: “Officers from British Transport Police have been made aware and are now working with us as part of Operation Stung.”
As the council-backed campaign entered its third week, CI Binnie said: “The behaviour of some of the young people is still unacceptable.”
He urged parents to play their part by knowing where their children are at nights, and helping educate them about the risks of alcohol.
Residents living around the trainlines said primary-age children have been seen on the tracks, not just on weekends but also after school on weekdays.
One local said it was too easy for youngsters to get down onto the lines. “Someone really needs to look at how these kids are getting in and how they can be stopped,” she said. “Better fencing would be a start.”
Recently elected Lib Dem councillor for Perth City South Liz Barrett said: “The behaviour of a small minority of young people can cause great distress as well as disturbance to residents, and I’m dismayed to learn that they’re also putting themselves into very dangerous situations.”
She said that Operation Stung appeared to be having an impact.
Perth City Centre councillor Eric Drysdale (SNP) added: “I do get it that young people must be finding it particularly difficult to be cooped up indoors, but I would urge them to avoid getting involved with others indulging in antisocial behaviour.
“A situation could easily develop that might even result in a criminal record which could affect career prospects. And I know it’s difficult but parents really have to accept responsibility for keeping their youngsters on the straight and narrow.”
He said: “As for trespassing on the railway, well that is just crazy stuff and could very quickly lead to a tragedy.”