Alert over illegal raves as Belfast police move 300 young people from park
Illegal under-age raves are feared to be on the rise after 300 teenagers gathered in a public park for a party arranged on Facebook.
Officers from the PSNI's Tactical Support Group were involved in moving the young people from Belfast's Cave Hill Country Park.
Police said many of those in attendance were "heavily intoxicated" and had travelled from across the city.
And with brighter evenings and milder weather conditions expected in the coming weeks, there are growing concerns of an increase in the illegal parties.
Three weeks ago children as young as 12 were said to have been among 250 teenagers who took part in a party in another Belfast public park.
Bottles and stones were thrown at officers as they dispersed the crowd from Orangefield Park in east Belfast.
Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister met senior police officers in north Belfast following Saturday's incident at Cave Hill.
She said the PSNI and Belfast City Council were working together to try to tackle the problem.
"I held a productive meeting with senior members of the north Belfast policing team on Tuesday, following the discovery of an illegal rave on Saturday night," she said. "In a worrying trend it appears social media may have been used to organise and co-ordinate Saturday's gathering, with the result that many young people attending had travelled from outside of north Belfast."
Ms McAllister said she had been assured the PSNI "will be working with Belfast City Council's anti-social behaviour and parks officers to not only police the Cave Hill area throughout the week, but also monitor social media sites to keep ahead of any planned events".
"While the response from the neighbourhood police team was quick and effective on the night, the numbers of crowds were so large it took some time for all youths to be dispersed."
Police also took to social media on Saturday evening to appeal to parents to ensure their children were not in the vicinity of the park.
There were reports of large groups of young people also gathering in interface areas in north Belfast in recent nights, with many schools on mid-term break.
"We are dealing with a fairly large amount of young people in the Oldpark Road, Rosapenna and Cliftonpark Avenue areas," PSNI Sergeant Brian Caskey said.
"At this stage thankfully most of the young people are all fairly well-behaved, but when asked why they were there, obviously near a couple of interfaces, the reply seems to be 'cos it said to be here on Facebook'."
Last month 250 teenagers took part in an illegal rave in east Belfast.
It was arranged through Facebook and attracted young people from across the city to Orangefield Park.
Many were said to have been drinking alcohol, with police reportedly coming under attack from stones and bottles as they tried to disperse the crowd.
A 16-year-old girl was arrested for public order offences but later released. Residents said the park may have to be closed in the evenings if the trouble persists.