Belfast Telegraph

Call for extra police patrols as Creggan nursery is targeted by arsonists

BY CLAIRE WILLIAMSON

Police have been urged to step up patrols in a Londonderry estate after children’s toys were set alight in a school’s nursery garden.

The arson attack on Sunday evening was the latest in a series of incidents which has plagued the Creggan area recently.

Residents have said they are living in fear due to ongoing anti-social behaviour and a spate of arson attacks.

In the early hours of Saturday morning a van was set alight at the Central Drive area.

Police believe the fire was started deliberately.

Shortly before 8pm the following day, there was another fire in the nursery garden of Holy Child Primary school when vandals gained access to the school and a number of children’s toys were set on fire.

“These toys were bought for the new sand house in the nursery. They are now going to have to be replaced,” said school principal Orla McDonnell.

“This building could have caught fire very easily.

“It feels like an invasion when the school is damaged.”

In similar incidents fires have been started deliberately around the Creggan shops and school windows have been broken.

SDLP councillor Jim Clifford said residents are “angry and disgusted.”

He said: “There is fear among them, even going to the shops at night. A lot of old people are terrified to go over there at night.”

He added: “Creggan is a great place to live, it’s not a bad place, but you get it everywhere.

“You get those up to all sorts and especially during the school holidays. It’s mostly young people.

“It’s a terrible situation. The shops are struggling, it’s hard enough at the minute to survive without having a van burnt out, all that costs money — you certainly don’t need this carry on.”

Mr Clifford said police need to step up their patrols but that the onus is also on parents to know where their children are.

He said: “I haven’t seen many police over there myself. They should step up their patrols to try and put a stop to this.

“The mothers and fathers should be deterring it. I think they should know where their children are. If it was my children I’d want to know.”

The PSNI defended its policing of the area.

Inspector Allan Hutton said: “Our primary focus as police is to protect the people and keep people safe and reduce that fear of crime.

“There is no other reason for the roles we perform. At times there are difficulties... but our primary focus is about keeping people safe.

He continued: “We are getting support from the community, but it is something we need more of.

“We have had great success in recent years.”

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