ELDERLY residents of a Peeblesshire town are sitting in darkness inside their homes amid a spate of anti-social behaviour, a meeting has heard.

The Innerleithen and District Community Council (IDCC) gathering was told some pensioners thought having the lights on would attract attention.

“Wacky baccy” and alcohol is said to be contributing to the trouble, with police officer Viv Carsley confirming that there had been an increase in anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the town.

PC Carsley said: “The police have taken calls and seen a pattern of behaviour.

“We carried out an environmental visual survey, looking at things including damage to buildings, broken windows and urination.

“Houses which are straight on to the street with no garden are being targeted.”

PC Carsley said there is an element of “chap door run” but problems are worse than that, with calls being reported at various times.

Particular problems were noted in Hall Street, the Cleikum Mill area, High Street and Traquair Road.

IDCC member Sharon Guest said that the lighter nights brought an increase in anti-social behaviour.

Ms Guest said: “At residents’ meetings a lot of people said they were quite frightened of making reports to the police.

“Some elderly people are sitting with their lights off inside because the lights attract attention.

“Someone smashed two of my flower pots.”

Residents have been encouraged to report incidents to the police despite intimidation.

The meeting was told one resident had printed out versions of the police online reporting page so that those without IT skills could complete the information before being inputted by someone else.

PC Carsley continued: “Asking youngsters in school, ‘What if it was your granny, granda or sister with a baby who was being terrorised?’

“We continue to engage with parents, social clubs and the schools but it is a slow process.

“We have had lots of success with Peebles Youth Voice and perhaps something similar could be extended in Innerleithen.

“Including the young people in decision making is very important.”

Tweeddale East councillor Julie Pirone said: “We need solutions and details of the youths involved, where are they buying the alcohol?”

The meeting was told that Scottish Borders Council will do licensing checks when teenagers, aged at least 16, are paid to attempt to buy alcohol, but that recruitment can be difficult.