Over 160 incidents of anti-social behaviour in parks reported last year
Four Belfast parks have been singled out as having “issues with persistent anti-social behaviour” by the council.
In an update to the council’s People and Communities Committee, officials said Falls Parks/City Cemetery, the Waterworks, Woodvale Park and Grove Playing Fields warranted particular attention.
More than 160 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported in the four parks and open spaces in the last year, according to the update.
Falls Park/City Cemetery topped the list with 59 incidents, followed by the Waterworks with 40 and Woodvale Park with 38 incidents.
Of the four areas, Grove Playing Fields saw the least amount of anti-social behaviour, with 27 instances being recorded in the last year.
SDLP councillor and People and Communities Committee member Paul McCusker said anti-social behaviour is becoming an “increasing problem” in Belfast.
“Transitional youth is also a growing problem with young people arranging to meet via social media at various locations throughout the city, while this is to be encouraged we need to ensure it’s done in a safe way,” he added.
“Everyone has responsibility to deal with anti-social behaviour from police, Belfast city council, youth leaders, community reps and parents and I feel a working group with all these people around the table could help address this growing problem."
Councillor McCusker said the representatives need to ensure they are engaging with young people who are gathering in parks to “ensure we are meeting their needs and sign posting them into local projects”.
“Identifying young people in the community who are assembling in the parks and making them feel a part of the solution will help reduce the incidents around ASB also,” he said.
“We need investment, co-operation and more effort on prevention as opposed to continually responding.”
In their anti-social behaviour update, council officers also pointed out that this type of behaviour is “often under-reported”.
“Officers therefore regularly review requisitions for repairs at parks/open spaces due to vandalism, criminal damage, or arson,” they added.
The update includes a list of the areas that have need of the most repairs in the last financial year, along with an assessment of the frequency of the issues.
Falls Park/City Cemetery and the White Rise areas of West Belfast, along with Marrowbone Park in north Belfast, are labelled as having “persistent” issues requiring repairs, due to incidents of arson, criminal damage and burglary.
Local News Partnership