Residents in south Belfast’s Holy Land have welcomed news that a new mobile CCTV pilot scheme, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, could be allocated to the area.
Belfast City Council said it was considering implementing the ‘redeployable’ cameras to the troubled area after it had received funding for the pilot scheme.
Richard McLarnon from Belfast City Council’s community safety team said: “They are cameras that can be put on a lamp post or a pole for three to four months and then can be taken down and redeployed elsewhere.
“It’s at the planning stage at the moment but we are considering the Holy Land as the first stage of that.”
He said this, and a rural scheme in Fermanagh, are to be the first ‘redeployable’ CCTV camera schemes in Northern Ireland.
He added: “It’s a city-wide scheme. They will go up in each area on a temporary basis — if there is a hotspot then we can move them.”
Ray Farley from the Belfast Holy Land Regeneration Association said he believes the cameras would help tackle the problems, including anti-social students, experienced there.
“We would like to see this in the area, provided of course action is then taken (from the CCTV footage),” he said.
“Places that are a regular problem, but which cannot be tracked all the time, such as by community safety wardens, can be monitored constantly.”
A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said it was “very likely that the Holy Land will be the first area where the system will be deployed” but it “will not be done without detailed consultation with the local community”.
The MP for South Belfast, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, said: “If anywhere merited a CCTV scheme it is the Holy Land.
“Just a few days ago the PSNI revealed over £35,000 of public money was spent on policing the St Patrick’s Day riot in the Holy Land.
“And as residents know all too well, this trouble wasn’t just a one-off incident, a small number of students cause ongoing trouble for residents in the area on an almost daily basis.”
Councillor Pat McCarthy said he is “quietly confident” the scheme will be chosen for the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, a stakeholders’ forum organised by Sir Reg Empey is due to be held on May 7 to provide an opportunity for all the relevant agencies to consider the issues and agree a “positive way forward” for the Holy Land.