Northern Ireland

Patrols to deter anti-social behaviour in Belfast

PSNI Superintendent Robert Murdie
Image caption PSNI Superintendent Robert Murdie said extra patrols would be out around Belfast during Easter to deter anti-social behaviour

Some young people involved in anti-social behaviour are being used to stoke tensions, a community worker in north Belfast has said.

The comments come after disturbances involving children as young as 10 in the New Lodge area at the weekend.

The police said they did not have information to support the claim, but extra patrols will be in place this weekend.

Children as young as 10 are said to be involved in anti-social behaviour.

On Saturday night, a 14-year-old boy received head injuries after he was attacked by a group during a disturbance near an interface on North Queen Street.

The police described the attack as "sectarian".

On Monday night, police came under attack during a disturbance close to Victoria Road.

Rob, a community worker, was in the area at the time and spoke to those involved.

"There was a group of around 15 males and I stopped and asked them what their goals were that night," he said.

"They explained to me that they were bored and had nothing to do.

"Young people aren't being engaged with properly and {this behaviour} appears to happen in different areas as we are coming up to the parading season."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Police came under attack at he weekend when they responded to a bin fire

When asked if he believes young people are being used to stoke tensions in the area, Rob said: "I believe there is an element of that."

"My fear is young people are being used here for the purposes of funding applications…and that disheartens me," he added.

He did not comment on who he believes to be responsible.

"We are only four months away from marching season, we need to put an end to this now before it becomes a major interface issue," he told BBC News NI.

The police said they do not have any information to suggest young people are being used to stoke tensions.

PSNI Superintendent Robert Murdie said extra patrols would be out around Belfast during Easter to deter anti-social behaviour.

"Unfortunately what we see is rising levels of anti-social behaviour right across the board," he said.

"We are heading toward the Easter holiday period and historically we see a rise in levels of anti-social behaviour.

"I'm not saying we are going to see that but we are anticipating a rise this weekend."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The police said they do not have any information to suggest young people are being used to stoke tensions

Mr Murdie said it is "a minority of young people who are becoming involved in this disgraceful activity".

"Parents and guardians have a responsibility to ensure they know where their young people are because anti-social behaviour blights communities and affects those who are most vulnerable," he said.

"We certainly don't want to criminalise young people and shackle their future because of a criminal record.

"So my message is don't become involved in this behaviour."

'Positive work'

Those who work in the New Lodge area are keen to stress positive work is being done in the area.

Sinn FĂ©in councillor JJ Magee said: "We have a lot of groups trying hard to help the children in this area and bring facilities in to be used by young people.

"We would like more funding, but with what they have [the groups] use it wisely. We have a Spring festival this week which is positive.

"There is plenty for young people to do and we are open to ideas from them to get a sense of what they want"

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