Council chiefs have come under fire after forming plans to slash the number of anti-social behaviour officers in Aberdeen by more than half.
The local authority’s Anti-Social Behaviour Investigation Team (Asbit) has dwindled recently due to vacancies.
And top brass now reckon the unit can be permanently reduced, from eight members of staff to an equivalent of 3.75.
The current situation means that the team is often single-manned and unable to attend complaints, as rules state that officers must go out in pairs.
The problems reported to the department include loud music, youths congregating, neighbours shouting noisily and dogs barking at unsociable hours.
But the council insists most issues can be dealt with by issuing advice rather than visiting properties in person.
The authority claims an improved online service would be more use to despairing residents.
‘These shameful cuts will be felt right across the city’
Bill Cormie, SNP councillor for Rosemount and Midstocket, recently became aware of the issue after a concerned constituent got in touch because they were unable to get the help they wanted from the team.
Mr Cormie said: “It is incredibly concerning to hear that the Asbit service is being cut.
“These shameful cuts will be felt right across the city in all our communities as anti-social behaviour happens all over the place.
“It is important that the council stands ready to assist residents when they are dealing with anti-social behaviour.
“Our most recent SNP budget added additional funding to the Asbit service. We know it is required, because we’ve listened to our constituents during this pandemic.”
How to tackle problem behaviour?
The chairman of Garthdee Community Council, Paul O’Connor, has previously raised complaints about anti-social behavior blighting the area.
Mr O’Connor, who is also manager of Inchgarth Community Centre, believes the council should do more to engage with young people who are gathering outdoors and creating trouble in the evening.
He said: “There are about 20 full-time youth workers who work with young people in schools during the day.
“One solution to cut down on anti-social behaviour at night would be to have these youth workers get out there into the communities at night to work with young people.
“There are resources there, and putting them in the right places could make a difference.”
Council hits back
A spokesman for Aberdeen City Council said the changes would make for an improved service.
He said: “We are currently operating with reduced staffing in our Anti-Social Behaviour Investigation Team due to vacancies.
“We continue to provide a call out service albeit on a reduced basis.
“Under delegated powers, officers are preparing a business case with proposals for the service to more effectively tackle antisocial behaviour.
“This is being designed to better match service provision with actual demand levels, and to deliver intensive intervention aimed at securing more sustainable outcomes.
“The majority of contacts to the team require advice rather than a call out service and therefore we developing options for assistance through improved online services.”
Complaints soared during lockdown
Washing machines, the volume of neighbours’ TV sets and some DIY projects all drove residents up the wall at a time when many of us were forced to work from home.
Information on how to contact the anti-social behaviour team is available on the council’s website.