War has been declared on anti-social behaviour in north Lurgan as a team of volunteers unite with police backing to create a safer area.
The new North Lurgan Safer Community (NLSC) was launched on Tuesday - a group also backed by the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSP) and Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council.
Initiated by Sinn Fein due to community outrage at consistent anti-social behaviour, Cllr Keith Haughian said: “Around six months ago we became aware of an increase in incidents of anti-social behaviour and underage drinking in the area which was impacting on local residents.
“A number of Sinn Fein activists and North Lurgan Community Association (NLCA) members came together, keen to find a positive and progressive way to help. Having identified the main time the ASB was occurring, we decided to go out onto the streets to try to engage with the young people and provide some reassurance to residents.
“It soon became clear that many of the young people didn’t live locally but were coming into the area to gather mostly at the disused Clendennings factory site. Any groups of young people we encounter, we explain to them about how their behaviour can effect local residents. In most cases the young people have accepted this advice and moved on. We also quickly identified that we need to look at other ways to engage these young people and are currently exploring how to encourage them towards positive community involvement. We also needed to have a better understanding of issues that effect young people such as drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.
“We realised that we needed support in our efforts to reach out and reassure residents. The PSNI and the PCSP along with other agencies have shown a willingness to play a part. NLCA are focused on improved provision for the local area and the NLSC initiative contributes towards their commitment to do this.
“The SF council team and MLAs will continue to call for the privately owned Clendennings site to be developed or at least secured. While we don’t think we have the answers to all the issues in the area, we do feel it’s important to be engaging with the young people and the residents.”
Chief Inspector Jon Burrows said: “When we talk to the community, dealing with anti-social behaviour is the number one issue on the doorstep. We want to work with the community and the various partners to make a real difference.”
He explained that anti-social activities included noise, drinking on the street and generally being a nuisance. He added that with less police resources, they need to work in partnership with local people and have the eyes and ears of the local community.”