Elected representatives are calling for a working group composed of community organisations to tackle antisocial behaviour across Larne.
DUP councillors Gregg McKeen, Paul Reid and MLA Gordon Lyons spoke out after hearing local residents’ concerns of a rise in anti-social behaviour in several parts of the town.
They say that residents, particularly in Boyne Square, are living in fear of intimidation as a group of up to 30 young people enter gardens, damage cars, play loud music and drink outside homes.
Other areas of the town which have been affected are Craigyhill, Millbrook, Mill Brae, Antiville and Linn Glen.
“Over the past three to four months there have been problems with pockets of antisocial behaviour in those areas,”
Cllr Reid told the Times.
“Those involved are in their early teens, aged 13 to 16 and of mixed gender.”
Mr Lyons said that residents are afraid of speaking out.
“There is a fear of intimidation, some people are scared to walk down the street and elderly people who have lived in Boyne Square for some time and who have never had problems before are being affected,” he stated.
“I don’t think this is an orchestrated campaign, some are bored, some are cheeky and they don’t realise the impact. The police are formulating an education programme on antisocial behaviour. I also recently met with Carlee Letson from PIPS Larne and one of the main areas of concern is drug abuse in the Linn Glen.
“We are thinking of having a workshop with church leaders, PIPS Larne, the YMCA, youth leaders and the police to tackle these issues.”
Cllr McKeen, who is the Chair of Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PSCP) said the young people involved needed to take into account the effect of a criminal conviction on their long-termfuture, such as restrictions on travel to the USA and Canada.
“On a council level we need to look at the power of wellbeing through community planning, looking for funding of programmes for various estates,” he stated.
“There is engagement with primary school children up to the age of 12 but we need engagement from 13 to 16 year olds as well.”
Mr Lyons praised the fast response of the new neighbourhood policing teams to the issue. Cllr McKeen said the presence of 65 officers at Larne Police Station would improve response times, discourage antisocial behaviour and help officers develop a relationship with the community.
A police spokesperson stated: “Police in Larne are aware of concerns around antisocial behaviour and have been working with local councillors and community representatives to address the issue.”
Chief Inspector Stephen McCauley added: “We understand the effect that antisocial behaviour can have, particularly on vulnerable people within our communities, and we are committed to finding solutions to address it. These solutions cannot be found by police alone. We need to work together with partners in education, youth providers, social services and the local community to address the underlying causes of antisocial behaviour and, subsequently, their outworkings.
Chief Insp McCauley said the police would be conducting “proactive patrols” throughout the affected areas and asked parents to talk to children to explain the effect and consequences of antisocial behaviour.