Wi-fi acting as magnet for town centre crime

The supply of free internet access is being blamed as the main reason for a rise in vandalism and anti-social behaviour in Glenrothes town centre.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 9:58 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 5:18 pm
Police say free wi-fi is attracting youths to Glenrothes town centre as officers battle to reduce crime in the area.

Senior officers in Glenrothes have told councillors that groups of youths who are going on to commit crimes in and around the bus station and other parts of the town centre are being attracted into the area because of the free service and are calling for the ‘turning off’ of the wi-fi service during the evening.

A pro-active focus by officers in recent weeks, coupled with an effort to work along side schools in the area, has seen a reduction in town centre crime levels.

But the attraction of free wi-fi to these groups of youths remains.

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“We will continue to work to ensure Glenrothes remains a safe and enjoyable place to live and visit,” Inspector Joanne McEwan told the Gazette.

“In response to the issues experienced in early spring one suggestion, among many others, included a proposal for town centre businesses to consider reducing free wi-fi availability in the evenings for limited periods.

“This came about after specially trained officers discovered that free wi-fi, along with shelters and places to sit, may have contributed towards young people congregating in an area.

“In tackling community problems we consider all possible aspects and potential solutions. Although we cannot and would not instruct anyone to trial this proposal, it is something that can be considered as an option.”

However, the talk of cancelling wi-fi access was the cause for some consternation among councillors, several of who raised concerns over the impact on efforts to create a viable night time economy in the town centre.

“These are changing times and town centres need to keep pace with new technology and the needs of the public,” Councillor Altany Craik said.

“While we should listen to what the police are saying and work closely where ever possible to assist them, I feel the benefits of wi-fi supply far outweigh the negatives.

“With exciting re-development opportunities already happening within the town centre and the considerable work already gone in to generating the basis of a viable early evening economy attracting more people to the town, maybe it’s time to consider different ways of how we police the town centre in the future.”