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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
Crime cameras cut school vandalism
Strathburn Primary School, Grampian
Schools can be targeted by vandals
Increased security is helping to reduce the amount of vandalism in Scotland's schools - although the problem is still costing councils millions each year.

A report by Audit Scotland for the Accounts Commission has shown that closed-circuit television cameras have helped cut the cost of vandalism from 12m in 1995 to 8m last year.

One primary school in the Highlands which reported 147 incidents before installing the cameras had only four minor acts of vandalism last year.

Many schools in Scotland still suffer from high levels of vandalism and fire

Professor Ian Percy
School security guards and fire prevention schemes are also thought to have contributed to the improvement.

The findings follow on from a series of recommendations issued to councils by the commission four years ago on tackling property crime in schools.

The report concluded that it was still a serious problem for many councils although it commended the progress made by some local authorities.

Glasgow City Council was the worst affected by vandalism, having to pay out 1.3m last year - equivalent to 17 per pupil.

Commission chairman Professor Ian Percy said: "Many schools in Scotland still suffer from high levels of vandalism and fire which not only has a financial cost, but lowers morale and leads to lost teaching time.

CCTV camera
Crime cameras helped cut vandalism levels
"Vandalism is a difficult problem to overcome. Some councils are doing particularly well and our report is peppered with initiatives that have made a real difference in individual schools.

"In other councils, progress has been mixed, and we have identified three councils which need to do a lot more."

The report singled out Aberdeenshire, Fife and North Ayrshire councils for "not having made sufficient progress".

However, it praised Dundee City, East Dunbartonshire, Glasgow City and South Lanarkshire for making good progress in the face of medium to high levels of vandalism.

It concluded that councils which had not implemented all the commission's recommendations should make a greater commitment to tackle the problem.

The report suggested they collect information on where and when vandalism and fire-raising happen and target those schools as a priority.

Schools 'not complacent'

And it urged councils to work closely with the school and local community in developing appropriate measures while monitoring the situation.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said the report had acknowledged the "determined efforts" of councils to tackle the problem.

Education and children's issues spokesman, Councillor Danny McCafferty, said the costs incurred by vandalism and fire had dropped by a third over five years.

He added: "However further improvements can be made and councils are not complacent about the problem by any means."

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Primary school burnt to the ground
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