Lisburn Councillor Jenny Palmer has expressed serious concern about the level of anti-social behaviour in local communities with many residents living in fear.
Mrs Palmer said she felt the issue in some areas, including Roseville, Huguenot, Hillhall and the Low Road, was not being successfully tackled.
The Lisburn North councillor wrote to the Lisburn Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) calling for a strategic approach to dealing with the ongoing problems.
She said that members of the Partnership need to be made “fully aware of the very serious ASB that has and continues to blight our communities in and around the Roseville, Hillhall and Hugenoet/Low Road estates.”
Mrs Palmer said that local residents are “fearful” of the crowds of young people who gather, and that more needed to be done to tackle the criminal damage that these young people were causing in local communities.
“Upwards of one hundred young people congregate in the underpass at the council headquarters to play their ghetto blasters, some involved in drug and drink abuse, with criminal damage being reported from local residents,” said Mrs Palmer. “Wing mirrors ripped of their cars, scraping of vehicles with metal and tyres being slashed. Residents are fearful because of the threatening behaviour and verbal abuse. Although I recognise the outreach work attributed to Lisburn Safe and BASE, they alone cannot manage to control mobs out of control.”
Mrs Palmer also met with District Commander Superintendent Sean Wright and members of his team last week to discuss the concerns of the local community.
The councillor urged the District Commander to allocate additional resources to tackling the ongoing problems. “When police do respond it’s usually two officers driving through the estates to monitor the situation,” said Mrs Palmer. “This is a totally unacceptable and it is causing the residents to lose faith in local PSNI. In recognising the problems it was highlighted by the District Commander that while he is loathe to prosecute young people, if criminal damage is done PSNI will bring criminal charges. We talked about the need for a new strategy to address the gathering of young people and anti-social behaviour. I believe that there is an opportunity for the community planning forums membership of all statutory agencies to collaborate their individual skills to bring a strategy to tackle this issue successfully instead of the sticking plaster approach that has been applied in the past.
“I acknowledge PSNI can’t solve the issue alone.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal and these young people are our future. We must engage with them and I hope that Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council can take the lead in this challenge.
“I want to place on record my thanks to PSNI for updating me on their improvements in policing under District Commander Superintendant Sean Wright’s leadership.”
A spokesperson for Lisburn PCSP said: “Lisburn and Castlereagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership is continually and actively working with community and voluntary organisations through the provision of financial assistance and by positive engagement regarding anti-social behaviour. A meeting has already been arranged to include all relevant statutory and voluntary groups in the area to look to a longer term action plan. The meeting will include discussion on current measures in place and quality of life for residents.
“Currently additional policing patrols are in place and feedback is that anti-social behaviour decreased over the preceding weekend.
“Lisburn and Castlereagh PCSP would advise that the PSNI be contacted with regard to reports of anti-social behaviour.”