MSP praises work of East Kilbride Victims of Teen Violence in Parliament

The escalating problem of teen violence in East Kilbride was highlighted in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The town's MSP Collette Stevenson MSP met with representatives from East Kilbride Victims of Teen Violence and took their concerns to Holyrood during Portfolio Questions on Wednesday.

Highlighting a "significant" rise in teen violence in her constituency, the MSP praised the local support group for raising the issue.

Local parents whose children have been directly affected by shocking filmed attacks in the town in the last year are making their voices heard.

As reported by Lanarkshire Live, angry parents whose teenagers have fallen victim to these “horrific" gang attacks - some of which are claimed to have happened on school grounds - are demanding authorities act before someone is killed.

A petition has been launched pleading for “immediate action” following “appalling” violent gang attacks around the town centre, in the Village and in an around local high schools.

It is claimed a core group of female youths are attacking random teenagers and sharing vile footage of the attacks on social media ‘for likes’.

In Parliament, Ms Stevenson asked the cabinet secretary to outline the work that the Scottish Government is taking forward, alongside the police, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and Medics Against Violence and how their expertise can be used in towns such as East Kilbride where police data shows that there has been a significant rise in youth violence - reportedly 25 per cent.

Collette said: “Following some videos of violent behaviour by some young people being posted on social media, I was keen to meet with representatives from the East Kilbride Victims of Teen Violence group. I reached out to them to better understand their concerns and we had a constructive meeting.

“Following that, I raised the issue in Parliament and I was keen to understand the work that the Scottish Government is taking forward, alongside the police and organisations such as the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit and Medics Against Violence.

“I was pleased to hear the Government are aware Police Scotland are investigating incidents in East Kilbride and deploying additional patrols to reassure local residents.

“The Scottish Government’s Violence Prevention Framework is bolstered by over £2 million this year, and in East Kilbride funding is targeted towards Medics Against Violence and No Knives, Better Lives to prevent youth violence in the first place.

“If any constituents have concerns or have been involved in an attack, it is important it is reported to the police for them to action."

Sickened parents have described the rise in teen violence in the last year as “alarming” and are calling on police, teachers and the local authority to address this escalating issue before there are fatal consequences.

Police said they are aware of recent incidents involving groups of youths within East Kilbride committing assaults and recording these acts on mobile phones.

Four female youths, aged 13, 13, 14 and 15 were arrested and charged in connection with an incident on May 3 where a 14-year-old girl was assaulted at a leisure centre in Brouster Hill, East Kilbride and treated in hospital for a facial injury.

All four will be the subject of a report to the relevant authority.

Additional patrols have bee deployed for “extra supervision” at the Dollan Aqua Centre and the town centre.

It is understood a multi-agency meeting was held this week to address the problem.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs, Angela Constance, shared Collette Stevenson’s concerns about youth crime.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance
Tanith Bavaird was left bruised and battered after horror assault by teen gang

She said: "I understand that Police Scotland is investigating incidents in East Kilbride and that it has deployed additional patrols to reassure the community.

"Through our violence prevention framework, we are supporting a programme of action, backed by over £2 million this year, to prevent and reduce violence across Scotland. In East Kilbride, the funding is supporting the targeted work of Medics Against Violence and No Knives, Better Lives to prevent youth violence in the first place.

"Although such problems should be of concern to each and every one of us in the chamber, I hope that Collette Stevenson can take some reassurance from the fact that, as I have highlighted, there has been an overall reduction in youth crime and crime generally, with violent crime having decreased by 58 per cent since 2008-09."

EK Victims of Teen Violence founder Sharon Bavaird, who started the group to highlight her 16-year-old daughter Tanith's unprovoked attack outside the Dollan Baths, said she is happy local parents' voices are being heard.

She said: "We are delighted just how quickly Collette Stevenson and Hugh Bradford got this mentioned in parliament. It hasn't even been a week since we expressed our concerns to them and we've been communicating since.

"Hopefully now senior officials will be less likely to keep ignoring the problem of teen violence in East Kilbride and start addressing the issue properly."

A spokesperson for South Lanarkshire Council said: “We are aware of the recent anti-social behaviour involving a small group of youths. Any acts of violence inside our schools are completely unacceptable, and the council and schools will work with police and other partners to address any issues involving pupils that occur in other places.

“School staff are liaising with the police to address the shocking behaviours of this small group in recent weeks.”

*Don't miss the latest headlines from around Lanarkshire. Sign up to our newsletters here.

And did you know Lanarkshire Live had its own app? Download yours for free here.