Belfast Telegraph

Youths with knives organise street battle on social media

By Chris McCullough

Police have been urged to be more vigilant on social media following another fight between youths in Belfast.

There are fears that someone is going to be killed as a result of these pre-arranged fights.

The latest concerns follow an incident on Friday night when more than 20 youths were involved in a mass brawl in the Skegoneill area of north Belfast which was thought to have been arranged on social media.

Residents were left shaken following the ordeal which left one 17-year-old with head injuries and a police officer needing attention for a minor injury.

Police have said they will step up patrols in the area following the brawl which involved some youths who were armed with weapons including knives and sticks.

Damage was done to nearby property and a number of vehicles in the area, leaving residents fuming.

Police said they were investigating "sectarianism and the use of social media sites are a strong line of inquiry" in what was behind the violence.

SDLP councillor Pat Convery said police should be monitoring social media closely for these incidents.

He said: "It's important that police quickly get to grips with the use of social media to organise these fights. This is not an isolated incident and we need to identify what action can be taken.

"Yes, we can urge the police to do more and be more proactive online.

"However, we are caught between a rock and a hard place because if we ask the police to be present online more, then the PSNI will be criticised for not being out and about on patrol.

"It's clear that we need targeted intervention from youth workers and others to help deal with this anti-social behaviour. My worry is that if we don't see positive, supportive intervention to break this destructive activity that the only resolution will come from the criminal justice system.

"I would encourage anyone with any information to bring it forward so that this situation can be resolved as soon as possible."

PSNI Chief Inspector Davy Moore issued a warning to those involved saying they "should stop and think of the consequences of their actions both in terms of causing serious injury to others or themselves".

This is the latest brawl thought to have been arranged on social media following a fight between two girls also in Belfast.

On July 19 a group of around 200 youths gathered to watch a fight between the girls around the Castle Street area in the city centre.

Belfast Telegraph


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