Belfast Telegraph

Teens travel miles to join illegal outdoor parties in Belfast

By Chris Kilpatrick

More than 200 teenagers who gathered in north Belfast to drink and party came from as far away as Bangor, police said.

Police had to deal with the huge crowd on Friday night in what was the latest in a spate of illegal outdoor parties in the city which are being organised on social media.

Some residents told police they were frightened by the number of teenagers in the area, while others reported fears for the young people's safety.

Seven police officers dealt with the crowd in Woodvale Park, Lanark Way and the Shankill Road.

As well as drink, police recovered a bong used to inhale cannabis.

The PSNI later urged parents to help them in tackling the growing problem

"We had reports from several residents and people who came up to us in the street saying they were scared of this crowd and others saying they were concerned for the safety of some of the crowd," an officer posted on the PSNI's Facebook page.

"The reality is that the vast majority of this crowd were a bit loud, but not the worst, and there was little drink on them, although I am satisfied some had plenty of drink earlier.

"However, there were a few who crossed the line to being disorderly and one boy will be reported to the Youth Diversion Officer. We also found a bong set up in a derelict building and that isn't good either.

"But beyond the whole criminal justice part of it I am, bluntly, more concerned about the fact that some of these kids are from places like Glengormley, Shore Road and Bangor, and didn't have a clue where they actually were."

He added there were "also a lot of young girls who would be classed as vulnerable". The officer added: "It is not a good idea for them to be running around a dark park and streets of an area they don't even know.

"The police don't have all the solutions to this and we don't want to stop kids being kids and gathering with their friends. But their safety has to be paramount. So I'm going to keep asking parents to think whether or not they know what their kids are up to."

Last week, police warned that teenagers are increasingly using social media to arrange violent clashes or large social gatherings. One of the largest pre-planned fights witnessed by police to date took place on Saturday, February 21, when around 100 youths gathered in Belfast city centre.

Several teenagers were arrested and others cautioned after officers disrupted youths gathering to fight at around 10.30pm in the main shopping area. A vehicle was damaged as the crowds made their way through Cornmarket.

Background

Last week around 100 youths gathered in Belfast city centre. Several were arrested and others cautioned after officers disrupted youths gathering to fight at around 10.30pm. Last month, over 300 young people gathered at Cavehill Country Park for a party. in January, 250 teenagers joined an illegal rave in east Belfast. It was also arranged through Facebook.

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