Anti-closure campaigners say Inspector’s comments don’t pass the test, after Cumbernauld Police Inspector dismisses Abronhill-Kildrum safety fears

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 21:22 GMT on Wednesday, 31st October 2012.

ABOVE: Inspector John Ferguson. Picture is copyright of Strathclyde Police.
CAMPAIGNERS for the Save Abronhill High School campaign have been left stunned after a Cumbernauld police inspector dismissed fears that gang land loyalty could result in safety problems from the rationalisation of two Cumbernauld high schools.

Inspector John Ferguson, who leads the force's community policing team, has told STV Local that he believes there will be little or no trouble if the merger plans between Abronhill High School and Cumbernauld High School went ahead.

His comments were met with anger through the Save Abronhill High School’s Facebook group, with supporters describing their surprise and anger at his comments.

In his comments he also hit out at the view that Cumbernauld has a problem with gang, highlighting figures which show a decrease in disorder calls to Cumbernauld Police Station.

Talking to STV Local, Inspector Ferguson said: “Strathclyde Police have submitted our views regarding the proposed merger to the head of Learning and Leisure Services as part of the consultation programme.

“The decision is ultimately a matter for North Lanarkshire Council and irrespective of whatever that maybe, my officers will continue to work with pupils to assist with any geographical loyalties and mistrust that may exist amongst certain individuals.

“From a policing perspective we deal with the conflict between neighbouring areas and the young people within them, on a daily basis.

“Whilst friction between rival groups of young people has at times fuelled disorder, I do not subscribe to Cumbernauld being recognised as a town that has a ‘gang issue’.”

Inspector Ferguson told STV Local that disorder in Abronhill was down 29%, while in Kildrum the figure was down 26% compared tolast year.

Mr Ferguson added: “There is nothing to suggest that anyone, including school pupils, is at a greater risk whilst using pathways leading from Abronhill to Kildrum.

“However, should there be a requirement to look at them from a community safety aspect, my officers will assist in any way they can.”

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: “We have close working relationships with our partners in the police on a whole range of areas and when we have reports of anti-social behaviour then we work together to tackle it.”