Ex-cop turned churchman says youth violence in Scotland now worse than he witnessed in 10 years of policing

An ex-police officer has told how youth violence in Scotland today is worse than anything he witnessed in 10 years of policing.

Brian Casey, who now works as a church minister in Glasgow, is speaking out in the wake of the Daily Record’s Our Kids, Our Future campaign and said he is currently supporting more child victims of violent attacks than he did in his decade as a cop.

The 52-year-old teamed up with the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to support affected kids at his Springburn Parish Church during the pandemic after a resurgence of gang-related violence in his area. The minister is now backing our calls for the Scottish Government to ring-fence community funding for young people as he argued the issues are a result of lockdown and lack of access to mental health and youth resources.

Brian said: “I have been seeing the re-emergence of gangs. There are some areas of Springburn that youths from other areas won’t go to without getting a beating.

“We are building back up to the gang culture similar to what there was in the 80s. It’s a similar pattern to how those blade gangs formed. When you have lots of youths in one area, with very little to do, it results in violence. That obviously spills into schools where they’re mixing together.

“There is a whole generation of youths, post-pandemic, who are disaffected and angry. There is a real sense that they have lost out on something as a generation.

“The Record is really leading the coverage on this issue and giving those affected a voice to speak out. It is important this issue is highlighted and investigated to seek an honest way on how we can stop this and change it and it is important that we make the right demands to allow young people to thrive again.

“Things working in groups in communities to help to break tension by bringing everyone together to work together really helps. It also helps to reduce tension between youths and the police.

“This level of support must be prioritised in order to help tackle the levels of violence were are seeing among teens.

“As well as that, there needs to be funding in mental health services. Kids are waiting a year, sometimes two, before they can see someone and it is unacceptable.”

The minister also said he had to step up security measures at his church after teens were noticed carrying knives within the premises. Casey argues they were coming to the facility late at night to “look for attention” with “nowhere else to go”.

He said: “There’s nowhere else for them to go, so they were frequenting the streets and often coming into the church. The only other place they can really go to is a takeaway.

“There were a few incidents where they told volunteers they were carrying a knife so we had to put up CCTV as a precaution. They weren’t coming in to cause harm, they were just bored and they wanted somebody to talk to.

“Kids are looking for attention because they’re not getting it from society. It’s a sad state of affairs, they obviously don’t want to be hanging around outside in the cold.

“While there is a complete lack of funding, it seems that there are loads of people in our area who are willing to work and engage with youths, but there aren’t enough resources to do so.

“I don’t think that it’s too late to tackle this issue and it isn’t at the point of no return, there just needs to be funding in the right places.”

The Record has reported on series of disturbing attacks involving youths in recent months, including the most recent beating of a 12-year-old girl on a school bus in Fife. Kaylynn Donald has been receiving therapy for the alleged assault which was filmed during a journey on her way home from class at Bell Baxter High School in Ladybank, Fife, on October 25, 2022.

Three weeks prior, an autistic schoolgirl was hospitalised for two days from an attack which left her unconscious at a skatepark in Glasgow’s Drumchapel on October 4, 2022. Abbie Jarvis, now 13, still hasn’t been able to return to school.

The Record’s Our Kids, Our Future campaign calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a specific fund for youth facilities, including centres, cafes, projects and groups.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Any form of violence and bullying is totally unacceptable and should be addressed quickly wherever it happens. We are taking forward work to produce a new National Youth Work Strategy which is due for publication in spring 2023.

“This will aim to improve outcomes for young people and recognise the role that the youth work sector has to play in supporting their wellbeing. We recognise the important role councils have in delivering local youth work services – such as youth centres, youth groups and youth projects.

“This is why we are increasing the resources available to local government next year by over £570 million through the 2023-24 Local Government Settlement.”

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