VANDALISM and damage to property in Helensburgh and Lomond is “off the scale”, the area’s police chief has said.

Inspector Roddy MacNeill also said that he had never seen as much damage in his life at a meeting of community chiefs last week.

The Advertiser reported last week that round-the-clock plain clothes patrols were being maintained by police after an increase in car vandalisms.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested after damage to a parked car in Helensburgh’s Co-operative car park on Tuesday, July 23, while numerous incidents of vandalism and graffiti have been reported in Hermitage Park in recent months.

READ MORE: Helensburgh police step up plain clothes patrols after rise in car vandalism

But speaking at a meeting of the Helensburgh and Lomond community planning group on Thursday, August 8, Inspector MacNeill warned that the problem is increasing.

Updating the group on recent police activity, he said: “We’ve been busy as always, and unfortunately the pick of the bunch is vandalism and damage in the area.

“It is going off the scale just now. It is happening in Hermitage Park, in the central square, and to cars.

“It is turning into a bit of a competition. I have never known so much damage in my life.

“We are making a bit of progress. We had one boy charged and we have officers out 24/7, but it is just running on and on.

“We have been with the Friends of Hermitage Park for a walk round the park and a graffiti wall has been talked about.

“I am not a fan, but maybe that’s just with my negative head on.”

READ MORE: We won't let Hermitage Park's vandals grind us down, says Friends group

Helensburgh and Lomond South Councillor Richard Trail, who was at the community planning group meeting, said: “It was quite shocking to hear about.

“I think we have been aware of vandalism that has been going on in the park for a few months now, which is very disappointing.

“But in a relatively short period of time, it has come as a bit of a spike recently. I have heard the police talk about it before.

“It was quite well put that the perpetrators should be brought to book. It is a relatively small number of people but if they are brought before the justice system that is the only answer.”

Fiona Baker, chair of the Friends of Hermitage Park, said: “We did go through the park with the police to discuss the options to try and deter vandals.

“The Friends and managers are very keen on engaging with young people, keeping chatting and building up a relationship.

“We want to find out what things they would like to do in the park so that they are able to feel more part of it.

“It was said that CCTV is the best deterrent and we have a fundraising campaign to raise the money to increase it.”

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