TEENAGERS in Tweeddale who are underage drinking have no fear of being caught by the police or their parents.

That is according to a community youth worker at this month's meeting of Peebles Community Council, following concerns of an increase in anti-social behaviour in the town.

In recent weeks, community leaders say they have received emails from worried residents reporting drunken youths causing mayhem and that parents don’t feel safe going out with their children.

And recently on Facebook a Peebles resident said he witnessed 14-15-year-olds drunk and hollering abuse at locals walking by.

The concerned local also highlighted that teenagers were drinking Buckfast and lager at the back of the Old Parish Church and smashing the empty bottles.

In an effort to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour, the community council has enlisted the help of Tweeddale Youth Action manager Dave Hodson.

Mr Hodson said the Peebles-based youth club is an alternative to young people being out on the streets drinking, but it is now running on reduced numbers due to COVID restrictions.

He said: “We’re quite restricted with numbers but guidance changed recently so we can deliver outdoor work in our back garden at the youth club. Before COVID, we had 40-50 youngsters in the evening and we are open Friday and Saturday quite late. 

“Now, we have 15 young people and it’s not as attractive to a lot of the ones who would otherwise be out drinking, it’s not got the buzz around the place, we’re not allowed to play music and we’re restricted with what we can do.”

Mr Hodson added: “Certainly from conversations that I have, and my team have had with young people, is that there is no concern or fear of being caught by the police, they’re not worried about that, that’s not a deterrent. Many times they’re not at all concerned about parents finding out.”

Les Turnbull, the chairman of Peebles Community Council, said: “I’m struck by what you said, that a lot of these youngsters have no fear of the police because they know there’s no police about and they know they’re not going to get caught and they just become quite blasé about their behaviour.”

Highlighting the difficulties police face when dealing with unruly youngsters, community councillor Malcolm Bruce said: “Most of these people who are causing this problem are underage. 

“In our day, you might have been taken away and locked up for your trouble. 

“They simply can’t do that these days to 15 and 16-year-olds and they don’t want to criminalise these people, so they’re left with much softer options, all of which they try to no avail so far.”

Tweeddale councillor Robin Tatler said it was “important not to tar all young people with the same brush”.

He told the meeting: “There are groups of young people that I’ve met who have always been very polite and very well mannered. 

“Some of these young people are just trying to socialise and are not necessarily causing trouble and I think we shouldn’t lose sight of that fact.”

Community councillors also flagged up a comment they had seen on social media, where a person had called 101 regarding anti-social behaviour in Hay Lodge Park.

It was implied that the police attended and didn’t take any action. 

However, Tweeddale councillor Shona Haslam said it was important to seek clarification on whether police were patrolling the park or investigating that 101 call.

She added: “I’m not comfortable raising something with the police that was reported on Facebook. 

“To me, Facebook is not a reliable source of information and so I would need someone to email me with that account rather than just take it off Facebook.”