A Lurgan resident has criticised the PSNI after they took an hour and a half to respond to reports of anti-social behaviour in a notorious drugs and drinking den.
David Robinson had been urged by police to report incidents after he complained about lack of action on crime at Trasna Way.
Mr Robinson called police on Tuesday night to report three men in their 20s taking part in alleged illegal behaviour at the alleyway.
He said when he called police at 6.50pm he was kept on hold for quite some time. He then called 999 at 7.06pm and reported the crimes. However he revealed that by the time police contacted him at 8.27pm the trio had left and the police said there was nothing happening.
Mr Robinson said it was very frustrating that police did not respond sooner to deal with the issue and said he felt calling them was futile however he would continue to ring if he spotted crime.
Police had vowed to escalate patrols in the area after reports of salacious sex acts, illegal drinking and drug taking in the alley.
And earlier this week Mr Robinson had welcomed Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) plan to take action.
Police had also urged Mr Robinson and others affected to call police if they noticed any suspicious activity at the alleyway.
In response to Tuesday night’s complaint, Inspector Brian Mills said: “Our officers deal with a wide range of issues on a daily basis. In order to provide the best and most effective service to the community we must prioritise our attendance to calls for assistance. On this occasion police were notified of the presence of youths allegedly involved in anti-social activity in an alleyway at Trasna Way on Tuesday evening. Police attended at the earliest opportunity but found no-one in the area. We have increased patrols in the area lately and are liaising with a number of interested parties in relation to this issue and I would continue to ask anyone noticing any suspicious activity at the alleyway to contact police on 101.”
Mr Robinson believes a simple solution would be to put a gate on the alley.
He claims obscene sex acts plus drink and drug-fuelled anti-social behaviour are an almost 24-hour-a-day occurrence.
Having lived there for eight years, Mr Robinson said what had once been a weekend or evening issue, the anti-social behaviour had now become “intolerable”.
“You have everything from drug addicts to alcoholics.
“If you go up the alleyway you will see loads of drink and drug paraphernalia.
“These are grown men and women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s – not just kids, although I have seen kids there, some of them taking drugs in their uniform.
“This is dangerous to have these teenage girls among elderly men, alcoholics, drug dealers and drug addicts.
“There are teenage girls having sex against walls,” he said, further claiming there had been lewd acts involving girls and several men.
He claimed dealers in expensive cars drive to the alley to deliver drugs.
“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years,” he said, adding he was glad the council cleaned it up regularly.
A spokesperson for Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “On Monday we received a complaint about anti-social behaviour in Trasna Way. Our PCSP, Community Development and Environmental Health teams work with the PSNI on these matters, patrolling hotspot areas and developing diversionary activities for youths who are at risk of engaging in anti-social behaviour. However, we can only act on information that is reported to us or the PSNI.”
It is understood the PCSP will be meeting with local residents in the near future.
Mr Robinson said that while he welcomed the council’s new approach he wanted the ‘words followed by action’.
On Monday he said: “I await with bated breath to see what they do. It is all very well saying the police will increase patrols but they can’t be everywhere.”
He added that many residents felt calling the police on a regular basis had not helped solve the problem.
He said ‘an efficient, cost effective and simple solution would be to erect a gate to stop anyone inappropriate getting into the alley’.
Mr Robinson insisted that the council could easily act to resolve the matter. “What is the point in calling the police after the event when you have already lost sleep. The damage has been done,” said Mr Robinson.
Last week PSNI Inspector Brian Mills said: “Officers from the Neighbourhood Policing Team in Lurgan recently discovered a number of empty beer cans, bottles and litter at an alleyway near Union Street in the town. “It is believed that the alleyway has been used by youths as a drinking den. “There have, however, been no reports from members of the public in relation to anti-social behaviour at this location or any other illegal activity. “We have increased our patrols in the area in an attempt to ensure that this activity stops, and anyone found drinking there will be dealt with accordingly. “I would encourage anyone who notices any suspicious activity at this alleyway to contact police on 101, or in an emergency, 999.”