An increase in vandalism?

The mushrooms on the old First School grounds, still beloved of toddlers, reported vandalised Tuesday, mysteriously back in position Wednesday?

People are certainly feeling angry about the vandalism and anti-social behaviour (thinking discarded dog poo bags) around the village these days. Let me think: what’s been reported recently (within the past month say, back to 7th April anyway), in Allendale area notices?

  • breaking up of ‘mushrooms’ in front of old First School
  • stealing of eggs and honesty boxes at farm yard sales points
  • theft of a nice blue-grey van
  • discarded poo bags (several notices)
  • theft of wildlife camera for monitoring red squirrels
  • woodland fires set off in Deneholme Woods
  • pansies knicked from barrels at Isaac’s Well (?rooks?)
  • various cats and dogs missing or killed on the road
  • outrageous driving (speeding/overtaking) through Catton and Allendale
  • joggers leaving dogs to worry sheep
  • reports of suspicious-looking characters touring farm areas ostensibly reconnoitring for quads etc to knick
  • litter (chocolate bar wrappings) in the park
  • knicking of a wheelbarrow garden ornament

Along with, in most cases, anxious wailings and comments of despair, “What ever is going on in our village these days?”

Is this list an indicator of an new increase in vandalism or do many of these items exemplify another round of low-level anti-social pursuits by what we always called ‘the bad boys’ who come along, generationally, and wreak havoc around the place until they grow up a bit, whereupon peace is restored until the next generation come in and do exactly the same. I worked through at least two, more likely three generations of ‘bad boys’ (and it really is, almost always, boys) at the village hall and recreation ground between 2003 and 2016, watching them grow up after lots of petty vandalism (and lots of patience from those who’d invested so much time, effort and money in the place!). I mean, really, butter wouldn’t melt in the mouths of some of these boys today, who did significant damage to the place while they were growing up.

I don’t know the answer to the question whether this is a real current issue or is a reflection of a continuing social problem. I do know that ‘bad boys’ have been with us for some time: the benches around the bowling green were once removed from their positions because the bad boys of one generation (it must have been in the 1950s or 1960s) thought it would be quite a lark to heave them onto the green, gouging great divots into the smooth carpet lawn. The picnic tables in the park have long been a magnet for anti-social vandalism, with persistent replacement over the years running into the hundreds if not thousands of pounds of investment, again and again. Then there was the destruction of the trees. That was vandalism of an entirely different class, which did result in CCTV surveillance over the whole park, and that surveillance, I believe, has curtailed a lot (but not all, obviously) of bad behaviour there.

When you think of it, if you were in a position to be watching, perhaps, you could possibly have blamed the original Tar Bar’ler for anti-social behaviour on a drunken New Year’s Eve, for dancing around with a burning tar bar’l on his heed, in a public square, exhibiting lewd and drunken behaviour, my goodness! I’m confident the uptight Victorian society members of the time were certainly not amused! “What’s the world coming to these days?” they probably asked themselves, shaking their heads and muttering dire imprecations. That would have been getting on for nearly two centuries ago, I’d guess.

So maybe these things are always with us, and we develop mechanisms for coping, for moving on and accommodating, not without soul-searching, and lots of hand-wringing, for sure, but dealing with things and gradually, steadily, putting things right. Or maybe there really is a vandalism crime-wave, and !something should be done! What, then?

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