A north-east school for special needs has been vandalised for the fourth time in just two weeks.
A fence was broken down and damaged beyond repair in a play area at the Anna Ritchie School in Peterhead last week.
CCTV footage shows a group of young teenagers damaging the property on Wednesday May 5 between 7.38pm and 7.52pm.
Head teacher Sharon Ferguson said: “It’s a small play area we have round one of the classrooms at the back of the school, which is there to allow the children to have free play and outdoor learning. We had it altered by the Princes Trust to make it more secure, but unfortunately you can see on the security footage there’s just two youngsters swinging on the top of the gate until they managed to rip it out.
“They damage the gates about once a fortnight, we’ve tried leaving them open and we’ve tried closing them. Normally, they just kick them to loosen the panels and loosen the posts, but they did actually spend a long time trying to rip this one out last time.”
This was the fourth incident in just two weeks, but the school is repeatedly targeted – particularly during spring and summer.
Mrs Ferguson explained that there is often lots of broken glass in the play area and the fence around the front of the school, which is used as a corral for the younger children, was significantly damaged.
The parent council previously received a £2,000 donation from Shell which went towards the replacing front fence with a metal one which cost £5,800.
She described further distressing incidents where youths have hung around the school after-hours – in one instance, mocking a child at the Saturday Club.
“We’ve had a youngster climb in through a window and frighten the cleaner at the end of the day,” she said.
“And we’ve actually had a youngster, around six weeks ago, it wasn’t at the school it was at the Saturday Club for children with additional support needs, put his hand through a window to steal something and really frightened the young man who then got distressed. He then stood outside the window and mocked him. The police recorded that one as a hate crime just because of the way they were behaving towards the young man with disabilities.”
Mrs Ferguson said that two local businesses offered to fix the fence for them after the most recent incident and praised the community’s ongoing support.
She added: “The people of Peterhead are wonderful to this school, then there’s this tiny, tiny cohort of young people who seem to think in terms of finding something interesting to do this is it.”
Aberdeenshire Council’s head of education, Vincent Docherty, said: “The recent vandalism at Anna Ritchie Special School is disgusting and disappointing. It is totally unacceptable for a children’s outdoor play area to be vandalised beyond repair by heartless vandals. If anyone has information about this incident, I would encourage them to contact the police immediately.”
If you have any information contact the police by calling 101.