Crazy depicting Fort as ‘crime-ridden blackhole’, says Baxter

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There was an online backlash this week as irate residents of Fort William hit back after a national daily tabloid newspaper portrayed their town as being in the midst of a worrying crime wave and likening it to places such as Watford and South Africa.

The article in the Scottish Daily Express drew more than 260 comments after a link was posted on a local Lochaber social media page, with many complaining it was just being used as an excuse to attack the SNP government over police numbers.

The article quoted a number of apparent incidents, some alleged, and quoted people criticising the police for apparently not doing enough to combat crime, including rising youth-related crime, in the town.

Among those who took to social media to challenge the claims was Mark Linfield, chairman of Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council.

He told the Lochaber Times he was disappointed to read the report and while not denying there have been some incidents recently as reported in the article, he and his fellow community councillors did not believe their local area to be particularly worse that any other Highland towns or villages.

‘The police are well aware of the anti-social behaviour of groups of youths, the Fort William Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council have voiced our concerns to them that it needs to be dealt with,’ said Councillor Linfield.

‘We believe the area does not deserve to be labelled as a crime hotspot due to a few recent isolated serious incidents and we hope that the anti-social behaviour will lessen as the main culprits are engaged with by our police and other services.’

Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor, Andrew Baxter, said it was disappointing to see a national newspaper attempt to ‘sensationalise’ recent incidents in the Fort William area.

Councillor Andrew Baxter
NO F40 Andrew-Baxter

‘Of course these are crimes and should be treated seriously. Yes, we have problems from time to time, no area is perfect. But most people’s experience is that we live in a safe place where crime is relatively low,’ he told us.

‘It’s crazy to try and paint Fort William as some sort of crime-ridden black hole where lawlessness roams every street corner. I normally cooperate with journalists but I refused to comment on this occasion.’

Asked to comment, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘The Highlands and Islands is one of the safest places to live in Scotland. Crimes recorded for 2020-21 showed one of the lowest rates of recorded crime in Scotland.

‘Of the crimes that do occur, the number of these which are solved by police is one of the highest in the country. Anyone who has concerns about crime in their area can speak to a member of their local community policing team.’