Community representatives in the Finaghy area of south Belfast have called for a “special multi-agency community safety forum” to be set up to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area after a machete was found in the Woodlands Playing Fields over the weekend.
The weapon was found by a member of the public after more than 100 young people were removed from the park by police late on Saturday night for drinking.
The Finaghy Crossroads Group, who handed the weapon over to the police on Tuesday, told The CT that more needed to be done to tackle escalating levels of anti-social behaviour in the park.
“The work of the Belfast City Council community safety wardens patrolling with the police in Finaghy on certain dates helps, but it can only go so far in tackling the problem,” said Finaghy Crossroads Group development worker Stephen Magennis.
“We need consistency. There needs to be a multi-agency approach working against this (anti-social behaviour) all the time so that it’s nipped in the bud when it happens.”
“Make no mistake, this weapon was brought into the park with the intent to cause real harm,” said group chairman Brian McCrory.
“The lives of residents living nearby are being made a living hell by the young people gathering there over the weekend and it is only going to get worse.”
“We want to advise local residents not to approach these teens, but to contact the police or get in contact with us as we can liaise with the police on their behalf.”
When contacted by The CT, a police spokeswoman
said: “At this time we understand that arrangements are being made to hand into police an offensive weapon that is believed to have been found in the park over the weekend by a member of the public.
“Police have been working closely with residents, community groups and Belfast City Council’s Parks Department in the Finaghy area in relation to issues surrounding Woodlands Park and in particular anti-social behaviour in the area. We will continue to work with all those who have a positive contribution to make and would encourage anyone with information about any specific incident to come forward to police immediately.”
lTo report anti-social behaviour to the police, call 0845 600 8000 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. To contact the Finaghy Crossroads Group, call 9029 5403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.