YOUTHS who have turned a beauty spot loch into an unofficial party zone face a crackdown by police.
Central Scotland cops have introduced a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for anti-social behaviour at Dumbrock Loch near Mugdock Country Park - which is plagued by partying teenagers throughout the summer months.
Known by many locals as Abies Loch, Dumbrock is situated across Craigallian Road from the park visitor centre.
It is not part of Mugdock Country Park so it’s not patrolled by the countryside rangers because it’s part of Craigend Farm which belongs to Edward Pickard.
In recent years the loch has attracted large numbers of teenagers during the summer who camp overnight, drink alcohol and play loud music.
Often they leave behind empty cans and bottles, used disposable barbecues, food packaging, sleeping bags and even tents.
The area has livestock, including highland cattle which could be injured if they walk on broken glass bottles or even die if they eat something plastic.
David McNally, community police officer for the area, said: “Historically, children and youths have used Abies Loch for swimming and bathing. Gradually over the past number of years, many people now camp in the area and use it for informal gatherings on warm sunny days.
“This has become a major problem because many visitors fail to appreciate this land is part of a working farm and damage the environment, even cutting down trees to make camp fires.
“Last May we discovered 75 teenagers, mainly between 16 and 18 years old, from the Milngavie area having a party and drinking alcohol on the banks of the loch.
“They didn’t think they were causing any harm but residents of Moor Road, Strathblane, about half a mile away, had contacted us to complain about the noise. The mess which was left on this and many other occasions had to be seen to be believed.
“Many of these teenagers get a lift to the loch from their parents - they think their children are safe in the countryside and can’t do any harm or come to any harm but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I want to drive home the message that if visitors to this area do not adhere to directions laid out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code they will be charged and prosecuted.
“Over the coming months police officers will patrol the area and confiscate alcohol from anyone who appears to be under 18, and anyone who damages the environment will be prosecuted and removed from the area.”
The landowner, Edward Pickard, said: “We need to do something about this before it gets out of hand, it would be awful to have a repeat of what happened 10 years ago when a youth drowned in the loch.
“Camp fires have got out of control in the past and an area the size of half a tennis court has been burned. It is also a site of specific scientific interest with a wide variety of plants so we need to protect it.”