CAMPAIGNERS have launched a bid to call for a specific offence to punish those who vandalise war memorials.

The Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial want to see harsher penalties for anyone who desecrates a memorial, similar to proposed legislation currently being discussed in England.

Dennistoun War Memorial was targeted with what was believed to be a petrol bomb shortly before its official unveiling two years ago, so the cause is personal to the East End group.

At Westminster discussions are underway over the potential introduction of a new offence that would carry with it a jail term of up to 10 years.

Jim Watson, chairman of the Friends group, said: "It is important because of what the war memorials mean to people. A war memorial is like a grave stone, it means that much to a lot of people.

"People who have lost family members, they might never even have met them, but that memorial is where they can go to think about them.

"The family member might be buried hundreds of miles away in another country and the memorial serves as a place of remembrance for them.

"It's not like vandalising a phone box or a car - it's a totally different crime.

Glasgow Times:

"Memorials mean a lot to people and I know the devastation that the damage to our memorial caused in the community and the committee was absolutely gutted."

Jim spearheaded the campaign to have a tribute placed in Alexandra Park to honour the fallen from Dennistoun.

His campaigning, with support from local politicians and Milnbank Housing Association, raised more than £17,000 for a memorial.

The monument was unveiled in September 2018 but was badly vandalised shortly before the opening ceremony.

Recent discussions have taken place about the future of statues on the back of demonstrations by the Black Lives Matter anti-racism group.

But Jim is keen to separate the two issues.

He added: "We want to separate this from the discussions about statues that have been raised recently because we just feel it's a completely separate issue.

"We are a non-political group and we would hope to get cross-party support for this and make people more aware that war memorials are not the same as other statues and monuments."

Glasgow Times:

Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial now aims to petition politicians to support their proposal.

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “Desecrating war memorials is a disgrace and shouldn’t be tolerated.

"The Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial group have done great work to commemorate the fallen who so bravely sacrificed for us, only to see their memorial targeted in a firebomb attack a few years ago.

"Their idea to stop attacks on memorials is worth exploring further, especially if it can deter shocking attacks like that.”

Last month the Roma Holocaust Memorial in Queen's Park was desecrated for a second time by vandals.

In the most recent attack the rose tree was snapped at the base and removed from the memorial; a previous incident saw vandals take the plaque from the memorial.

At Westminster the suggestion is that legislation would be tabled in the form of a desecration of war memorials bill.

It has already received backing from which is already said to be backed by around 125 Conservative MPs and is due to be presented to the Commons by two backbenchers.