ALMOST two thirds of Renfrewshire’s schools fell victim to vandalism during the pandemic.

Shock figures released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show that 43 out of the council’s 62 schools suffered some form of vandal attack or malicious damage between May 2020 and last month.

There was a total of 290 incidents, costing the taxpayer just over £45,000 to carry out repairs.

While the FOI report obtained by The Gazette does not give details of specific incidents, many of the attacks involved windows being smashed or broken and doors and roofs being damaged.

There were also reports of damage to fire fighting equipment, including fire extinguishers.

Many attacks happened while the schools were closed due to Covid restrictions.

One of the worst affected was Bishopton Primary, where there were 22 separate vandal attacks reported. Arkleston Primary in Renfrew and Johnstone High came under attack with 11 incidents.

Gryffe High in Houston, the second best performing state school in Scotland, suffered seven attacks, with Trinity High in Renfrew and Park Mains in Erskine suffering six each.

The report shows that Gryffe suffered damage to a fire extinguisher and ceiling tiles, though no repair cost was given.

Councillor Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone, Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch, called on Renfrewshire Council to take urgent action.

He added: “I am very concerned by the figures for Johnstone High. It’s always a small minority that does these things.

“I would like to see more outreach initiatives to engage with local kids, like the current Street Stuff.

“I would also like to see a bigger role for community wardens and see them upgraded to street assistants, which they have done in Glasgow and Dundee.

“This would give them more powers to deal with anti social behaviour.”

However, the majority of vandalism incidents over the 18 month period were in Paisley schools, with Castlehead High having 34 incidents and Paisley Grammar (32) and Brediland Primary (18) all affected.

Kersland School Campus in the town ended up with a massive bill for £41,207 following one vandalism report in May last year, though no further details were given in the FOI report.

Figures for the period from 2016 to 2019 show there there were a total of 93 attacks on schools, costing Renfrewshire Council just under £36,000 to repair.

Vandalism included damage to windows and glass panels. Fire extinguishers were set off on various occasions with blinds, doors and flooring also damaged. On one occasion a heating thermostat was ripped off a wall.

Again, the majority of schools affected were in the Paisley area. However, there were 10 vandalism incidents in Linwood High, 13 in Fordbank Primary in Johnstone, and four each at Woodlands Primary and St Benedicts High, also in Linwood.

Renfrewshire Council spent £1,139.50 repairing a basketball hoop which had been damaged at Linwood High.

A further £772.58 was spent on fixing a fire door at the same school, which had been kicked in by a pupil. Both incidents happened in 2016.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “Vandalism impacts greatly on local communities. Sadly, incidents of vandalism are not uncommon, especially when buildings are closed or empty.

“Security measures are in place to deter incidents and enhanced deterrents including security cameras, steel shutters and fencing are in place where appropriate at vacant buildings.

“While the pandemic impacted on the way we worked in the past year, public space CCTV remained fully staffed and operational 24/7 and through the Community Safety Hub, we worked with colleagues in Police Scotland to consider all reported incidents and take action as appropriate.”

The council said the damage to Kersland happened while it was lying empty after pupils had transferred to Riverbrae School. Repairs have since been carried out to prepare it for sale.