In this week's Advertiser View, content editor Craig Borland reacts to the news of a "robust approach" to tackling anti-social behaviour and youth disorder in Helensburgh – and warns older readers against viewing all young people as potential troublemakers.

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THE older I get, the more I find myself grumbling about weans and how they’re no’ like they were when I was young.

I always promised myself I wouldn’t fall into the trap of being a Grumpy Old Man, though if you ask Mrs B, she will tell you that is a promise I broke a very long time ago, so it seems that is one battle I’m definitely fated to lose.

So you’d think I’ll welcome the pledge from Roddy MacNeill, Helensburgh’s new police inspector, that he plans to use a “robust policing approach” to tackle the problems of youth disorder and anti-social behaviour.

And I do. And, I suspect, so will you. Anti-social behaviour is not the worst thing when compared to violent or sexual crime or drug dealing, but no-one who’s ever been on the wrong end of it will deny the deep effect it can have.

READ MORE: Helensburgh police chief promises 'robust approach' to tackling yobs

What I hope doesn’t happen, though, is that ordinary (and older) members of the public in Helensburgh don’t use Inspector MacNeill’s pledge as an excuse to point fingers at young people who are doing nothing more than minding their own business.

It’s not all that long since I attended a meeting of Helensburgh Community Council at which someone asked, apparently in all seriousness, if officers in Helensburgh couldn’t just round up groups of kids, put them in the back of a police van, take them to the station and tell their parents to come and pick them up.

My eyebrows shot up at this, though a police officer present replied that throwing kids – or anyone – in the back of a van, without at least having reasonable suspicion that they might have done something bad, is, to put it mildly, not a good road to go down.

READ MORE: Helensburgh's MSP welcomes anti-social behaviour pledge

The vast, vast majority of young people, in Helensburgh and elsewhere, are hard-working, law-abiding members of the community, whose efforts we have been, and will continue to be, delighted to highlight in the Advertiser.

And those who aren’t do not, by and large, wake up one morning and say ‘today I’m going to switch from being a good person to a bad one’.

In almost all cases, personal or family circumstances lie at the root of their bad behaviour, and tackling those root causes is what will solve the problem, not throwing them in the back of a police van or into a cell for a few hours.

Pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable is all part of growing up, anyway. If, at some point in your youth, you didn’t do something to see what you could get away with, you’re a better person than me.

Yes, there will always be some cases in which a short, sharp shock is all that’s needed when a young person steps over the line. And that’s why I welcome the promise of a “robust policing approach”.

But Inspector MacNeill and his colleagues already know that there is an awful lot more to tackling the problem of anti-social behaviour than wielding a big stick – and the wider public would do well to remember that too.