Meeting to address anti-social trouble

Meeting to address anti-social trouble

9 January 2019

TROUBLING incidents in the Saintfield, Killyleagh and Crossgar areas over recent weeks topped the agenda during a meeting between local politicians and a senior police chief on Monday.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon and Rowallane councillors Billy Walker and Terry Andrews met with PSNI Chief Inspector Darren Hardy to discuss the trouble which has left people in the respective areas concerned amid reports locally that young people were taking drugs.

The meeting — described by participants as “constructive and helpful” — discussed a spate of aggravated robberies and attacks in the Queen’s Park area of Saintfield.

Mr Shannon said local people were keen to see a greater police presence in Queen’s Park, with Chief Inspector Hardy confirming he will be “responding positively” in the area within the next few weeks.

“There has also been anti-social behaviour in the Killyleagh area and recently in Crossgar where the village’s Christmas tree was also damaged, while an elderly and vulnerable couple had their property vandalised,” said the MP.

“There is also the issue of the drugs that seem readily available throughout the three villages and there must be a concerted effort to combat drugs and the police will be very active in the next weeks in the area.”

Mr Shannon said that while police planned to be proactive, officers required the support of the public, urging them to report all incidents so they can be logged.

The MP said was essential that people provided whatever information they could, “no matter how small they believe it to be.”

He continued: “By working together, crime levels can be reduced, criminals can be prosecuted and put in jail and anti-social behaviour will be addressed.

“Criminal drug suppliers must be apprehended and convicted. When this is achieved from reporting any small event, all our towns and villages will be the benefactors and our children will be safer.”

Cllr Walker said he very much appreciated the meeting with the senior police officer to discuss a number of areas of concern.

“The meeting gave me the opportunity to highlight what I am hearing from so many people. They want the restoration of confidence in the PSNI by seeing more officers on the ground, officers who people can have a quiet word with and feel confident that action will be taken,” he said.

Cllr Walker also encouraged people to report incidents to police, explaining those who may not want to contact the PSNI directly can provide information anonymously using the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555111.

He added: “This is anonymous charity which will not take someone’s phone number. If anyone does have any information that will help us to get the thugs of the streets and our neighbourhood safe again it is important it is provided.

“People have had enough and this trouble needs to stop. The culprits need to be apprehended and brought before the courts.”

Cllr Andrews, who last week condemned young people who targeted the home of an elderly couple at Crossgar’s Lislea Drive and damaged a nearby public Christmas tree, said it was his understanding that those responsible were not from the village.

He added: “These young people are harming Crossgar’s reputation by their selfish behaviour and the troublemakers need to be dealt with.

“It is vital recent incidents in Crossgar, Killyleagh and Saintfield are addressed swiftly. Anyone who has any information which can assist police with their enquiries must come forward.

“I welcomed Monday’s meeting with Chief Inspector Hardy and hope an increased police presence and greater public vigilance can help bring an end to what is particularly unsavoury behaviour. What has been happening is intolerable.”