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A significant rise in malicious damage at public toilets across The Highland Council area, which includes damage in Fort William, has prompted the local authority to urge local people to report vandals to police.
Over the past two months there has been a significant rise in the amount of vandalism, particularly fire raising at numerous public toilets across the Highlands including at Viewforth Car Park, in Fort William.
The council says such facilities offer a vital service to many people (delivery drivers, key workers in the NHS and Care services, and council staff) and having to close them to deal with vandalism impacts on many people including locals and visitors to the region.
The council said it has been working hard to maintain and keep open as many public conveniences as possible and to retain or expand facilities in partnership with communities where possible.
During the pandemic as people wished to exercise more; get outdoors and travel across the region the public level of demand for public toilets has been high.
Debbie Sutton, Highland Council’s amenity services manager, said: ‘We ask people to be respectful of the facilities and report any concerns over misuse. Some facilities are locally-run by the community so the vandals are simply damaging the efforts of their own families, friends, and neighbours.
‘Graffiti and fire raising while not only criminal is a total waste of taxpayers’ money and diverts resources from council works and services. It’s vital that our public toilets are safeguarded and no more are lost before the 2022 tourism season begins.
‘We urge anyone with information on vandalism in their local public toilets to contact Police on 101 or to phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.’
Police Superintendent Maggie Pettigrew added: ‘We are acutely aware of the disruptive impact antisocial behaviour and associated issues such as vandalism has on a community.
‘Local officers work closely with partners to address these issues and find meaningful long-term solutions to prevent these issues from arising.
‘We also work identify those involved where offences are identified. Vandalism like this is at the very least mindless and has the potential to result in far more serious consequences.
‘We would urge anyone with information about vandalism or fire raising to contact us by calling 101.’
Area Commander Derek Wilson is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s local senior officer for Highland. He said deliberate fires have the potential to cause injury and even death or cause devastating damage. ‘They are a needless drain on emergency service resources at a difficult time,’ he added.
‘Our firefighters and community action teams have been and will continue to work extremely hard to engage with the public and promote safety messages.
‘We also ask parents, guardians, and carers to help by making sure that children and young people are aware of the risks and consequences of deliberate fire setting.
‘We welcome the ongoing support of our local communities and by following all of our safety guidance, everyone can help to reduce the risk of fire.’