Glasgow & West Scotland

Top policeman calls for CCTV at Glasgow Necropolis

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Media captionA senior police officer is calling for CCTV cameras to be installed at the Glasgow Necropolis to stem antisocial behaviour.

A senior police officer has called for CCTV cameras to be installed at the Glasgow Necropolis to help keep the area free of antisocial behaviour.

Ch Insp David Pettigrew believes the cameras would act as a deterrent to disorder and vandalism.

Glasgow City Council said the implementation of cameras had been explored but the topography of the site made it difficult.

The Glasgow Necropolis is a historic cemetery and tourist attraction.

The 37-acre Victorian cemetery, east of the city centre, contains about 3,500 monuments and sculptures.

Ch Insp Pettigrew, the officer in charge of the Necropolis area, told the BBC: "At this time of year, it is not the same as the spring and summer months. This is an area where people come to drink. They do that because it is out the way.

"That brings with it anti-social behaviours and disorder, whether deliberate or otherwise. It damages the headstones as well, so there is a clearly a disrespectful aspect to that. The headstones have been here for hundreds of years and can be loose, and if they fall over they can cause serious injury.

Image caption The Glasgow Necropolis is a favourite place for locals and tourists to see views of the city
Image caption Chief Inspector David Pettigrew thinks CCTV would help officers in the summer months

"Primarily, we are talking about drinking in the Necropolis. Gang activity in the east end in general is very much in the decline in recent years."

Ch Insp Pettigrew said police officers take part in regular patrols of the necropolis during the spring and summer months, supported by teams from Community Safety Glasgow, who work in close consultation with the city council.

The senior officer said the teams from Community Safety sometimes patrol the area with mobile CCTV vans but he would like to see this taken a step further.

He added: "CCTV has proven to be an effective aide to policing in many other parts of the city, so I think it would go without saying that it would be a benefit to this area also.

"The cameras themselves act as a deterrent because when people know they are here, they clearly don't have the same advantage as being able to hide behind a bush or a tree, but in the event that something happens it gives us the opportunity to find the people responsible. Quite clearly, we cannot be here 24 hours a day."

Police Scotland told the BBC they only received six reports of crime at the necropolis between April and August 2015 - four of vandalism, one breach of the peace and once incidence of drinking in a public place. Three people were reported to the procurator fiscal over these incidents.

Tourist attraction

The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis are a group of volunteers who conduct tours of the cemetery, and raise money for conservation and restoration work at the Necropolis.

Ruth Johnston, the group's chairwoman, said: "I don't think it (anti-social behaviour at the Necropolis) is any different from a large park in a very large city. We bring a lot of tourists here.

"People feel very safe coming in here, and there wouldn't be so many people coming if they didn't feel safe.

Image caption Ruth Johnston, of Friends of Glasgow Necropolis, said tourists feel safe at the cemetery

"The Glasgow Necropolis is incredibly inspiring, no matter what your interests are - history, social history, archaeology, architecture, sculpture. Some of the most famous sculptors have done work here."

Alexander "Greek" Thomson and Charles Rennie Mackintosh are among those whose work is at the Necropolis, while William Miller - the man who wrote the Wee Willie Winkie nursery rhyme - has a memorial erected in his honour.

A memorial for Glasgow firefighters is also among 3,500 in the cemetery, with an estimated 50,000 people buried at the site in total.

Next year, the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis hopes to raise £60,000 for the restoration of the Monteith mausoleum, and they will continue commemorations for those who died in World War One and other conflicts.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "Community Safety Glasgow currently deploy two daily security patrols, staggered day and night, to the Necropolis and random mobile CCTV patrols are also conducted in the area to deter and detect antisocial behaviour. Foot patrols are also carried out within the Necropolis to deter dog fouling.

"There are also quarterly meetings between Police Scotland, the council, Community Safety Glasgow and the Friends of the Necropolis group to discuss any issues.

"The possibility of using re-deployable CCTV in the Necropolis was also explored, but the topography of the site made it difficult in terms of radio signalling."

Image caption It is thought around 50,000 people are buried at the Glasgow Necropolis

A spokesperson for Historic Environment Scotland, which is a statutory consultee for the Glasgow Necropolis, added: "We are aware that there has been an issue with vandalism and anti-social behaviour at Glasgow Necropolis.

"Whilst we are not aware of any recent requests to Glasgow City Council planning department regarding the potential installation of CCTV we would be happy to discuss this and other proposals for improving security within the grounds of the Necropolis with them.

"Public security measures such as CCTV are not uncommon practice within other historic sites and buildings and we would work with the applicant to discuss possible options."

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