Belfast Telegraph

Dangers of joyriding and car crime highlighted in film for road safety week

Tommy Holland
Tommy Holland

By Christopher Leebody

A powerful new film displaying the devastating consequences of car crime has been released as part of an event in west Belfast to mark Road Safety Week 2019.

'The Ripple Effect' - launched yesterday by Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane alongside the group behind the film, Families Bereaved Through Car Crime - features harrowing accounts of people who have lost loved ones as a result of car crime and "death driving".

Specifically targeted at young people in the local community indulging in dangerous criminal behaviour, the release of the film at Corpus Christi Youth Centre also ran alongside a car crash simulator at the centre, in order to give a first-hand understanding of the consequences of joyriding.

Tommy Holland's cousin, Harry Holland, died after a stabbing in 2007, attempting to fight off a gang from stealing his van. Tommy is featured in the film and helped found the Families Bereaved Through Car Crime group alongside other families affected by death drivers.

Speaking at the launch of the full 41-minute film, he described the atmosphere in the room as being "very emotional".

He said: "It was the first time that all the families watched it together. They all came together to launch it and the emotion watching it was unbelieveable."

The hard-hitting testimonies - part of a wider road safety event to mark Road Safety Week - were also shown to more than 40 young people from St John Paul II Primary School, together with local youth workers.

Explaining the impact Mr Holland hopes it will have on young people in the area, he said: "If this doesn't work, for the life of me God knows what else would work. It is just so heartbreaking.

"You are looking at families on there and they are pouring their hearts out. It is powerful. After you watch it, you just can't talk, there are no words. What we are doing is saying please watch this film and we are pleading with them to stop before there is another family heartbroken".

The bereavement group, who worked alongside the Department of Justice, believe that the film should be made compulsory viewing among schools, youth and community groups and distributed across social media, in order to ensure the message reaches children and young adults.

He also hopes anyone who is caught up in criminality as a result of death driving should have viewing of the film made compulsory as part of the sentence, bail conditions or probation - either before court or entering the youth justice system.

"The judges should make it compulsory that anyone who comes up before them involved in car crime should be made to watch this. If they are up before the same judge again and the judge knows they have watched this film, it should impact on their sentence," he added.

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