Youths run­ning amok in Brechin Cathe­dral

SE­CU­RITY: Church forced to close ear­lier, fit ex­tra locks and use anti-climb paint

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GRAEME STRA­CHAN

Se­cu­rity is be­ing stepped up at Brechin Cathe­dral to save it from fire-rais­ing van­dals.

Fears have been raised about the his­toric build­ing af­ter shocking CCTV footage was cap­tured show­ing young­sters us­ing the build­ing as a play­ground.

As well as rip­ping down church no­tices and set­ting fire to them in the porch, teenagers have also been caught run­ning over pews, climb­ing to the choir loft and drink­ing vodka.

They have also been smok­ing in the church, walk­ing along the ledges of the stained-glass win­dows in the chan­cel and en­ter­ing the pul­pit and us­ing a hymn book as a fris­bee. Graffiti has also been scratched on a church wall.

The church is now clos­ing ear­lier to keep the teenagers out, ex­tra locks have been in­stalled and anti-climb paint used.

Ses­sion clerk Dou­glas Tay­lor said: “It’s very dis­re­spect­ful be­hav­iour and it’s got to stop be­fore there is a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent.”

Clo­sure-threat­ened Brechin Cathe­dral is be­ing plagued by fire-rais­ing van­dals run­ning amok.

There are now fears the build­ing – which car­ries a £140,000 debt – could be put at fur­ther risk un­less the van­dal­ism can be ‘nipped in the bud’.

Shocking CCTV footage shows young­sters us­ing the build­ing as a play­ground in­clud­ing rip­ping down church no­tices and set­ting fire to them in the porch.

Teenagers have also been caught run­ning over pews; climb­ing up to the choir loft and drink­ing vodka; smok­ing in the church; walk­ing along the ledges of the his­toric stained-glass win­dows in the chan­cel; and en­ter­ing the pul­pit and us­ing a hymn book as a fris­bee.

Church elder Archie Milne said graffiti has also been scratched on a church wall and ex­tra se­cu­rity mea­sures are now be­ing put in place in what is one of the old­est sites of wor­ship in Scot­land.

“The church is now clos­ing an hour ear­lier to the pub­lic at 4pm,” he said.

“Ex­tra locks have been put on doors in­side the build­ing and anti-climb paint will be put down on the gates and rail­ings.

“It’s sad that we’re hav­ing to go to th­ese lengths but we have to pro­tect the build­ing.

“We have noth­ing against young­sters com­ing in – the place is open for everyone and any­one as long as they re­spect it.

“But this be­hav­iour is not ac­cept­able and it seems to be every four or five years that this kind of event oc­curs.

“I don’t be­lieve this is ma­li­cious pre-planned be­hav­iour but it’s just the way so­ci­ety is.

“The kids are bored but our fear is what hap­pens next if this is al­lowed to con­tinue?”

Dou­glas Tay­lor, ses­sion clerk, said they first no­ticed some­thing was wrong when they found a door open in­side the church.

The door can only be ac­cessed from a se­cure area which is when they dis­cov­ered the teenagers were pulling them­selves up into the choir loft.

“It’s very dis­re­spect­ful be­hav­iour and it’s got to stop be­fore there is a se­ri­ous in­ci­dent,” he said.

“We’ve had prob­lems over the past three weeks with the youths.

“In one in­ci­dent they ripped down no­tices from our no­tice board in the porch and set fire to them af­ter the gates had been locked.

“They also got into the pul­pit and were throw­ing a copy of a hymn book be­tween each other like a fris­bee.

“There have been sev­eral other in­ci­dents which have been caught on CCTV and copied on a disc and handed to the po­lice.

“We have vis­i­tors who travel from all over the world to visit the church and this type of be­hav­iour doesn’t give them a good im­pres­sion of Brechin.”

Brechin owes its ori­gins to the me­dieval cathe­dral, which is the old­est build­ing in the burgh, and the Celtic monastery which pre­ceded it.

The build­ing it­self is to cel­e­brate its 800th an­niver­sary in 2020 and the old­est part of the cathe­dral is the Pic­tish round tower which is about 1,000 years old.

A spokes­woman for Po­lice Scot­land said: “We are aware of the is­sues and of­fi­cers will be car­ry­ing out ex­tra pa­trols in the area.

“Anti-so­cial be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated.

“It is up­set­ting for the lo­cal com­mu­nity that van­dals are dam­ag­ing pri­vate prop­erty.

“If you wit­ness this kind of be­hav­iour, please con­tact Po­lice Scot­land on 101.”

Caught in the act: The young­sters have caused chaos in the catherdal and caused ex­ten­sive dam­age.

Brechin Cathe­dral prop­erty team member Pam Thom­son and ses­sion clerk Dou­glas Tay­lor.

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