SCHOOLS and nurseries across West Dunbartonshire will now be subject to patrols following a "relentless" spate of vandalism.

Officers from the local authority's anti-social behaviour team will include educational premises while out on their community patrols.

Police Scotland will also be monitoring schools to help reduce vandalism. 

Last month, we reported that vandals destroyed thousands of pounds in resources following a wilful fire at Gavinburn Early Learning and Childcare Centre (ELCC).

Valuable children’s resources including external play equipment, wellington boots and playsuits for outdoor play were also lost due to the fire.

"Significant damage" was caused to the entrance, external lighting, and an alarm system.

Meanwhile, outdoor play equipment at Dalreoch ELCC in Dumbarton has also been targeted. 

In Clydebank, Our Lady of Loretto Primary School and ELCC, has been subject to regular vandalism.

West Dunbartonshire Council has committed to ensuring all damaged facilities and resources at Our Lady of Loretto be replaced to ensure they are ready for children after the holidays.  

The Clydebank school has reported several incidents of vandalism and anti-social behaviour, including damage to bikes, helmets and the outdoor education area.

In another incident, the children’s hut used as an outdoor classroom was deliberately set on fire and tyre planters created by the children were destroyed. A sandpit enjoyed by the younger children was also set on fire and the fence separating the school playground and nursery garden has also been significantly damaged.

Councillor Clare Steel, convener of educational services, said: “Our families have been very upset at the mindless anti-social behaviour and vandalism within our school grounds.

"This is very distressing not only for our employees but for the children to see their beloved possessions deliberately damaged is hard for them to understand.

"Our employees, along with the support of families, work hard to create outdoor learning areas to teach our children and young people and to have them destroyed beyond repair is absolutely heartbreaking.” 

Police Scotland Crime Prevention Officers will work with the council and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to visit schools to raise awareness of the dangers of fire starting with Fire Safety awareness sessions to pupils.

Chief Inspector Coleen Wylie said: “We are aware of these recent issues involving antisocial behaviour incidents around schools and we are acutely aware of the disruptive effect this can have on the community.

“Local officers are working closely with partners, including West Dunbartonshire Council, to address these issues.

“Dedicated patrols are carried out in affected areas, with officers providing reassurance to the community as well as discouraging antisocial behaviour.

"We are committed to encouraging people away from this kind of behaviour but will take appropriate action where incidents are reported and offenders identified.

"Anyone who has concerns about anti-social behaviour in their area is encouraged to contact police by calling 101 as promptly as possible."