VANDALS who daubed a wall next to Helensburgh's war memorial with graffiti just before Remembrance Sunday have been branded 'the lowest of the low' by police.

Blue paint has been sprayed onto the stonework which forms part of the walled garden within the park, next to the A-listed war memorial.

With a commemorative service scheduled to be held on Sunday morning, members of the Friends of Hermitage Park, the group which is working to refurbish the area, have expressed their disappointment after yet another setback.

Area police inspector Roddy MacNeill says that the listed status of the wall and the memorial means the damage cannot be power-washed away – and has urged anyone with information to help officers track down those responsible.

READ MORE: Friends' vow: We won't let park's vandals grind us down

Inspector MacNeill told the Advertiser: "The person responsible has sadly and very embarrassingly for the individual and the town defaced the outer wall of the war memorial within Hermitage Park.

"Due to the wall being part of the listed structure, the council report they are unable to power wash the area due to the risk of damaging the wall.

"It is the lowest of the low actions particularly as we approach Remembrance Sunday and the town prepares to honour those that the memorial remembers and represents.

"I am in no doubt that people know the identity of the individual responsible and urge you to contact the police.

"It can be anonymous; we only require a name.

"I appeal to teachers and other school staff that recognise this tag, as it will no doubt appear on school jotters and other such written work, to contact the police.

"The same tag has appeared previously around the town and officers are actively working to identifying the culprit."

READ MORE: Helensburgh vandalism 'off the scale', say police

The park has previously been hit by vandals who have trashed litter bins, set fire to new picnic benches and targeted the renovated pavilion building.

A statement on the Helensburgh Hermitage Park Facebook page read: “Very sad to see this has happened on a Grade 1 listed wall to the War Memorial garden and so close to Remembrance Sunday.

“All the graffiti in the park upsets us and we are working with Scotland’s top street artist to deliver workshops to channel the graffiti into more positive creations and for the perpetrators to learn that there is a code about what can be graffitied and where and, as you can imagine, war memorials are on the no go list.

“We must admit that seeing this is very disheartening for all of us and we really do wonder sometimes whether all the time, effort and fund-raising is worth the effort.”

The matter was also raised by a member of the public at last week’s meeting of Helensburgh Community Council (HCC).

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Sergeant Andy Barron, representing Police Scotland’s Helensburgh and Lomond division, told the meeting: “Calls to the park have come down over the last couple of weeks, I don’t know the exact statistics on it.

“But that is to be expected to a certain extent; the clocks have gone back, the darker nights are coming in, you’re never going to get anything like the volume of disorder and anti-social youth behaviour calls as you would during spring/summer.

“The inspector is concerned about youth disorder in the park, certainly over the last few months, and it has been acknowledged. There’s been a lot of disorder in the park, a lot of vandalisms, a lot of issues.”

In September, Inspector MacNeill announced that a CCTV camera would be placed in the park in a bid to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

HCC member John Tacchi told Thursday’s meeting: “From my point of view, and certainly from many of the residents’ point of view, to see the investment in the park mindlessly destroyed is heart-breaking.”

READ MORE: 'We'll be watching you': CCTV camera to be installed in Hermitage Park

Sergeant Barron responded: “It’s absolutely horrible.

“From a policing perspective you couldn’t have enough cameras.”

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