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Kids' rooftop antics a dangerous game

Editor's Viewpoint

The sight of young people - some of them just nine years old - running along the rooftops at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast is truly terrifying. These are tall buildings where one slip could mean certain death, but that prospect does not seem to occur to those involved, or if it does they ignore the peril.

As anyone who knows this hospital can testify, at least one roof accessed by the young people is quite fragile and is literally an accident waiting to happen.

It seems that these rooftop antics have become something of a craze in recent times, causing a severe headache for security staff at the hospital and even the PSNI.

Police have described the behaviour of the young people as reckless which it surely is, but it is also disruptive to staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.

One of the roofs which is used as a playground is above the intensive care unit and operating theatres and it is distressing for those parents who are sitting by their desperately ill children in the hospital to be confronted by the sight and sound of the hooligans overhead.

Trying to stamp out this behaviour is proving difficult, not least because a hospital by its very nature needs to be easily accessible by the public.

The young people are also adept at dodging any attempts to either prevent them trespassing or catch them as they descend back to ground level.

One immediate question that comes to mind is why these young people's parents are not playing a more positive role in stopping this behaviour. The identities of those involved may well be known locally and stricter parental control is definitely demanded.

These young people run a real risk of killing themselves, which, one would think, would be sufficiently worrying to ensure that responsible adults step in to persuade them to stop running along the rooftops.

But they also risk gaining a criminal record for trespass. They may just regard their behaviour as high jinks and a bit of a laugh or even a way of gaining respect among their peers, but they could be jeopardising their futures by ending up in court.

They have been caught on CCTV and police and security staff are working to identify those involved.

It can only be a matter of time before they are apprehended and, if appearing in the dock, they could well end up facing the high jump.

Belfast Telegraph

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