Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Time for action and students to wise up

This year the trouble began on Sunday afternoon when students began drinking, and what was meant to be a party atmosphere quickly descended into intolerable behaviour
This year the trouble began on Sunday afternoon when students began drinking, and what was meant to be a party atmosphere quickly descended into intolerable behaviour

Editor's Viewpoint

It is inevitable that young people starting university for the first time should approach Freshers' Week with enthusiasm and a sense of freedom. For many it may be the first time that they will have spent a protracted period of time away from home and away from the supervision of parents and siblings.

However, it is equally inevitable, at least in the Holyland area of Belfast, that this sense of enthusiasm and freedom should degenerate into fairly widespread anti-social behaviour in which some students put themselves and others in danger and make life miserable for the long-term residents.

This year the trouble began on Sunday afternoon when students began drinking, and what was meant to be a party atmosphere quickly descended into intolerable behaviour.

Residents complained of on-street brawls, general misbehaviour and up to 800 students drinking in the streets, keeping residents awake and concerned about their property until the morning.

This follows a disturbing trend. Last year more than 900 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported and that continued an annual increase.

What causes most concern is that the two universities, Queen's and Ulster, the PSNI and Belfast City Council all insist that they have plans in place to curb this behaviour by students and that they are working closely together.

The logic of what is happening - the annual increase in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents reported to the authorities - is that the current plans are not working effectively and perhaps greater enforcement is required.

Sign In

Freshers' Week is a particular flash point but there are others during the university year, particularly St Patrick's Day, and it should not be beyond the wit of the various agencies to ensure that they have robust plans in place to nip any trouble in the bud.

After all, these are supposed to be the brightest young men and women in society and not some group of anarchists or those with a political agenda to cause trouble.

Of course the primary responsibility lies with the students themselves. While exuberance is a natural part of leaving home, they must realise that behaving in an anti-social manner could have severe repercussions including expulsion from university or a criminal record if they are brought before the courts and convicted. That is something which would follow them through life and could impact on their careers. They need to simply wise up.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph