Free buses encourage troublemakers to move on

Monday February 5th 2024


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Stuart Sommerville

A crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Livingston shopping centre has pushed troublemakers to get on the bus and head to other parts of Scotland including Falkirk, police have said.

Police also said problems with teenage anti-social behaviour in northern Livingston have “migrated from Carmondean”.

An increased police presence on the buses in West Lothian has helped to calm down issues locally.

New call figures showed a total of 45 youth and anti-social complaints were made in the last three months of 2023 for Livingston North compared with 163 made in Livingston South – where the shopping centre is located.

Sgt Lee Brodie told this month’s meeting of Livingston North Local Area Committee that the troublemakers had moved on.

“We understand they’re often taking the benefits of the free bus travel and are now actually outside the county committing some of their offences and anti-social behaviour.

“We’ve actually seen them travelling to Falkirk.”

“Effectively, the numbers have gone down – it is partly the work we’ve done, but part of it has been the problem’s migrated to other areas, although surprisingly out of the county rather than within the county.”

A year ago councillors across West Lothian raised concerns that Livingston shopping centre had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour from teens travelling into the county from Fife and Edinburgh.

In his latest report to the LAC, Sgt Brodie said: “ASB figures during December decreased compared to October and November figures.

“During December, West Lothian Special Constables assisted Response and Community officers which enabled an increase in patrols within problematic areas. Our school link officers also conducted numerous ASB and cybercrime talks to both primary and secondary school pupils.”

His report added: “Officers have carried out a number of Bus Gateway checks riding on local buses to deter Anti-Social Behaviour, locally these have included riding the number 27 and 28 buses specifically travelling through Deans, Knightsridge and Ladywell at school leaving times to ensure pupils from Deans and Inveralmond were travelling both safely and responsibly.

“It was particularly useful and welcomed by passengers and bus companies alike.”

He added: “As a result of one such check alcohol was seized from one adult passenger who was subsequently ejected from the bus. We continue to utilise social media to promote this initiative and encourage members of the community to engage with officers.”

Sgt Brodie told councillors patrols of community officers in Livingston Shopping centre had increased in the past year.

The report added: “Supervisors have attended numerous meetings with McArthur Glen and Almondvale management in an effort to address these issues. Community Officers, in conjunction with SFR, and youth groups have conducted regular patrols of the area with several youths being identified.

“Work is ongoing with these youths and their families. Parents and Carers are encouraged to engage with their children and reiterate that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and can have longer term consequences.”

Councillor Alison Adamson expressed surprise at the low level of complaints and added she was pleased to see the drop.

Chairing the meeting, Councillor Anne McMillan thanked Sgt Brodie for including the complaint figures for the wards – something all LAC’s have been asking for over the last year.

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