POLICE in Helensburgh are to step up their patrols in Hermitage Park in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

The pledge came from the Helensburgh and Lomond area's senior police officer, Roddy MacNeill, as longer nights and warmer weather increase the popularity of the park – where a £3.3 million regeneration project is nearing completion.

Inspector MacNeill made the commitment after members of the Friends of Hermitage Park, the volunteer group working in partnership with Argyll and Bute Council on the park's renovation, revealed plans to provide dedicated facilities for young people to try and reduce the risk of vandalism.

Those include a specific area for younger park users to gather, and perhaps a graffiti wall for them to test their artistic talent.

READ MORE: Young people 'hold the key' to the future of Hermitage Park

Those measures, and Inspector MacNeill's promise to increase the police presence in the park, follow a number of incidents of vandalism in the park in recent months, in which fences, trees, picnic tables, bins and even the park's new 'Passivhaus' energy-saving pavilion have all been targeted.

Speaking at a meeting of the Helensburgh and Lomond community planning group in Garelochhead last week, Inspector MacNeill said: “We have a meeting with Friends of Hermitage Park next week to try and get a bit more attention on the park.

“It is getting quite popular with youths gathering in it and we have a place in place to be there as much as we possibly can."

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