Shopkeepers at ‘end of their tether’ due to anti-social behaviour

Shopkeepers are reported to be “at the end of their tether” due to the persistent noise and nuisance in the town centre.

Living Lerwick’s Steve Mathieson said anti-social behaviour in Harrison Square was a big concern for retailers – particularly on Friday afternoons.

“People I’ve spoken to have said they don’t want to work there anymore because it gets on their nerves on a constant basis,” he said.

Speaking at last night’s (Monday) Lerwick Community Council meeting, Mr Mathieson said it was “low level stuff” but a “continual nuisance”. 

Concerns about people gathering in Harrison Square came under the spotlight at last week’s community safety and resilience board meeting – when there were reports of late night revellers urinating, defecating and vomiting in the streets.

Mr Mathieson said a working group had since been set up to look into the concerns.

While retailers were said to be concerned about groups of mainly young people gathering during the day, police also acknowledged issues with an older crowd later on after the pubs had closed.

The attending officer said people were making an “awful racket” although “nothing disastrous” had happened.

He said many of those gathering needed to be educated that it was an offence to have an open container of alcohol in the street – and they could be charged.

He said police were “doing our damnedest” to control the situation.

“But it’s important to note it’s not all young kids it’s a lot adults who certainly should know better,” he added.

Councillor Arwed Wenger noted the issue of public toilet closures had been raised at last week’s board meeting.

However, he also claimed to have heard that as many as 45 hypodermic needles had been found in the toilets on a recent evening.

Other members warned it might be “second hand information”.

Council member Stewart Hay, a former teacher, cautioned against taking too heavy handed an approach to the situation.

“Young people gathering and old people gathering is just part of what human beings do,” he said.

“I live in the Lanes and I’m used to Saturday nights that are lively.

“I think, however, that we as a community have a role to engage with people.”

Mr Hay said trying to “stamp it out” was “nonsense”.

By engaging with young people, he said they would grow up to be “responsible citizens” whereas to make them a objects of criticism risked alienating them.