Belfast Telegraph

Just 13: armed and dangerous

Children as young as 13 have been caught in possession of offensive weapons in Newtownabbey, according to local police.

The police have also witnessed a rise in violence and vandalism in the area and have taken the unusual step of distributing a letter warning parents to supervise their children.

The notice is a joint effort between the police, Newtownabbey DPP and the local Community Safety Partnership.

Focusing on the Valley and Glenville areas, the leaflet refers to police patrols encountering increasing evidence of vandalism, anti-social behaviour and disorderly behaviour.

It even highlights the growing problem of children as young as 13 being found with offensive weapons.

The leaflet states: “The PSNI request you as parents to actively supervise your children to ensure that they do not engage in such behaviour. The police respectfully request all parents to take an active role in knowing where their children are to ensure their safety.

“If children end up with a criminal record the result may be a lack of job prospects and freedom to holiday or work abroad.”

Newtownabbey Area Commander Chief Inspector Paula Hilman said it was vital to have parents on board when tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

“Anti-social behaviour is recognised as a significant problem and major concern for communities everywhere,” she said.

“It impacts on public reassurance and quality of life. Police and our partners are committed to tackling the issue of anti-social behaviour and will deal robustly with anyone detected engaging in such activity.

“While police rely on and appreciate the valuable input which comes from community groups such as Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators, community associations and individuals such as community workers and members of Police Active Citizens Networks, we strongly feel that very often it is parents who hold the key.

“We need parents to play their part in a partnership approach to constructively address this issue,” she said.

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