Council / Danger of ‘vilifying’ young people over town centre behaviour concern, meeting hears

Photo: Jim Mullay

A WARNING was made in the council chamber not to “vilify” young people after more concerns about antisocial behaviour at the weekends in Lerwick were aired.

Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan updated members of the full council Wednesday about how he has been going down to the town – including Harrison Square, where people have been congregating – at the weekends to witness events.

While there have been improvements in recent weeks he still has “serious concerns” – with alcohol use among youths a key factor.

“It’s a culture that needs to be broken,” Duncan said.

As before, the senior councillor said there are reports of urination in the lanes, vomit, “dancing on the roofs”, litter and broken bottles.

He also claimed at 3.45pm on one Friday afternoon there were more than 30 people in Harrison Square, with rubbish there an “absolute disgrace”.

Duncan said he was not “youth bashing – they will have their fun like any other youths, like in past and in present” – and added that young people need a place to go.


But Lerwick South member Neil Pearson spoke up in defence of young folk and said Duncan should just use the word “people” instead of young people.

“I don’t believe it’s fair to associate this problem with simply young people,” he said, adding that the majority of crime reported in Shetland relating to alcohol does not specifically relate to youths and is not just at Harrison Square.

With a late opening chip shop there people leaving the pubs can also head to Harrison Square.

More generally he said with no venues currently open beyond 1am this means there is no staggered dispersal of people over the night as there used to be.

Meanwhile Shetland North member Tom Morton said there was a danger of “vilifying” young people. “I think we need to be careful about defining our terms.”

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He also likened Duncan going out on patrol at weekends as like Charles Bronson in 1970s film Death Wish.

On the subject on urination he said it was a matter for the police.

Duncan said he previously raised the idea of opening the Esplanade public toilets longer – they currently close at 9pm – but staffing resources and the danger of damage have ruled this out.

Shetland West member Liz Peterson also raised the idea of opening the toilets longer as a trial measure.

Duncan said he has now raised the idea of a couple of mobile toilets in the vicinity.

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