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Perth crackdown on drunken, violent youngsters spins off to other towns and villages

Operation Stung was launched after complaints about hundreds of rowdy youngsters mixing alcohol and weapons in Perth

Generic image of police officer, showing sleeve with Police Scotland logo.
John Seaton, 52, who was reported missing from Perth has been found. Image: Police Scotland

A crackdown on drunken, violent youngsters causing mayhem in Perth has been extended across the county.

Police and youth workers launched Operation Stung following complaints that hundreds of hell-raisers were causing trouble in Perth city centre.

Young people were found so drunk they were unable to protect themselves.

And officers found evidence that weapons were being carried and used.

Teams have since worked with thousands of young people to reduce anti-social behaviour.

And the scheme has been extended to tackle flare-ups in Crieff, as well as in Bridge of Earn, Letham, Craigie, Scone, Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, and Stanley.

Moncrieffe Island, on the River Tay in the centre of Perth
Police launched Operation Stung following incidents on Moncrieffe Island in Perth.

The progress is highlighted in the Perth and Kinross Chief Social Work Officer’s Report for 2022-2023.

Jacquie Pepper explains how trouble flared in Perth city centre, on the Inches and at Moncrieffe Island at the height of the Covid pandemic.

She writes: “It was reported that hundreds of young people had been involved in drinking and ‘rowdy’ behaviour, which was alarming for residents and people passing by.

“Further reports indicated an escalation to violence, and evidence that weapons were being carried and used.

“Young people were found so drunk they were unable to protect themselves and were vulnerable to abuse, violence, and further risk-taking behaviours.”

Operation Stung approach pays dividends in Crieff and other towns

Police Scotland declared a blitz on antisocial behaviour in November 2020 following the stabbing of a 15-year-old boy on Moncrieffe Island.

Officers said the youngster nearly died.

Ms Pepper says concerns were raised at a senior council level and money was set aside for Operation Stung.

Jacquie Pepper head shot
Jacquie Pepper. Image: Twitter.

The aim was to reduce violence by building relationships with young people who were out on the streets on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Since then, the youth engagement team has made 4,252 contacts with young people.

It has also carried out follow-up visits and awareness sessions in schools.

The team has helped police to locate two missing young people.

And there have been 37 home/school visits to follow up concerns.

Ms Pepper says the benefits could be seen in the youth engagement team’s swift response to subsequent reports of violent and anti-social incidents involving young people in Crieff.

Welcome to Crieff sign
Crieff is one of the towns where the Operation Stung approach has paid off. Image: Google

A school programme to inform young people about drugs, alcohol, sexual health,
consent and mental health was developed in response to the issues raised by young people.

And 44 sessions have been delivered to 752 fourth year pupils in five secondary schools.

Rise in concerns for children and adults

The chief social worker’s report was considered by the Perth and Kinross Integration Joint Board on Wednesday.

Ms Pepper said the impact of the Covid pandemic was still taking its toll on the community.

Among looked after children, she said: “We know that the social and emotional impact of Covid-19 has had a major impact on risk taking behaviour amongst young people, which has resulted in an increased requirement for residential placements as the most suitable care option for older young people.”

The number of child concern reports received by the council’s child protection duty
team in 2022/3 increased by 967, or 14% on the previous year.

Perth and Kinross Council logo on wall of council HQ in Perth
The Perth and Kinross Council social work report shows the effects of Covid are still being felt. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

However, The number of children and young people whose names needed to be placed on the child protection register has been reducing since 2020.

As of July 31 2023, it had fallen to 49 – down from 97 in 2020 and the lowest number since 2013.

The report also details a 30% increase in adult protection cases reported to social workers.

Four banning orders were issued by the courts.

These prevent vulnerable adults from coming into contact with others who were putting them at risk.

And seven large-scale investigations were launched, almost all in relation to care homes.

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