Falls plan targets antisocial behaviour

Published Tuesday, 12 February 2013
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An anti-social behaviour action plan has been launched in a bid to help a west Belfast community.

Falls plan targets antisocial behaviour
Antisocial behaviour is an ongoing problem in the west Belfast community. (© UTV)

The Lower Falls area has suffered ongoing problems with youths intimidating residents.

Community development worker Carl McKee said there is a small element engaging in "anti-community behaviour" in the area.

"The likes of 'death-driving', on-street drinking and basically intimidation of residents," he explained.

"But it is a very small minority of young people.

"Most of the young people who live in this community are involved in some of the great sporting clubs, boxing, football- and there's great work that goes on by the Falls youth providers to provide a great service for the young people."

The initiative launched by Sinn Féin is hoping to tackle some of these problems by improving conditions for the local community.

"We have a great opportunity for the community to move forward in a positive manner by developing the area through environmental improvements, educational initiatives, increasing employment opportunities, safer communities and in general helping to grow further that great pride that the Falls Community is so well known for," Mr Maskey explained.

The party says it will be working with the police, council and other agencies to address concerns about safety.

The project is being part-funded by Stormont, but Sinn Féin is also lobbying for additional long-term investment.

"We have an acute problem with anti-social behaviour in the area but of course it's also one of the most deprived areas in the north, and certainly in Belfast, so we recognise what's required is a pretty determined multi-agency intervention in the area which will help turn the area around and create a safer, cleaner, better place to live for people," the party's councillor Jim McVeigh said.

It's a matter of ensuring that the message is going out to young people that there is a future for them, there is hope for the future.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

As part of a wider strategy launched in November, the PSNI is also increasing its visibility on the Falls Road and stepping up bail checks.

"Since the start of that operation we have made over 130 arrests within the Divis area alone, and over 350 arrests across the lower Falls area of west Belfast," Area Commander Emma Bond said.

She added that people wanted to see officers on the streets in "real community-based policing".

"We won't be successful without the work of the community. I would like to encourage the community to continue to report incidents to us to let us know, and ensure we are fully informed around what their issues are," she said.

"We have taken the decision to extend the operation beyond its end date of January until the end of March to show our commitment to policing the area."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said representatives from the Executive, council and others working alongside the PSNI was making "a real difference".

"It gives local communities a sense that something is being done," he said.

"In the lower Falls area there has been a problem with anti-social behaviour, car theft and young people being involved in things that are absolutely detrimental to themselves and their own ability to fulfill their own potential in life.

"But also hugely detrimental to the local community, and I think this is a very serious attempt, led by Paul Maskey, to address those issues."

The minister said an £80m social investment fund had been set up to allow communities across Northern Ireland to support projects deemed important in their area.

He added: "I suppose also given the events in east Belfast in the course of the last eight weeks or so this is something that can also happen in areas like this, but it requires politicians to give leadership, it requires everybody to recognise the need to work together in a joined up way."

© UTV News
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4 Comments
Eamonn Andrews in Falls Road wrote (532 days ago):
I have kept this comment separate from my other comment regarding Sinn Fein and the MLAs tackling the issue of anti-social behaviour in the lower falls area.Because this comment would have got lost in the first comment. The residents group that has been set up in the area have been trying for the past few years to get local people from the area to get involved with the group, Given that the people of the residents group want to give up their time, It would be good to see residents come forward with ideas of how we should shape our area the way we would like to see it. The excutive have promised to fund different initiatives. But i would love to see more people involved in the organising the structure of this once proud and close knit community.I know that resisdent group menbers Carl McKee,Mary Lavery and other menbers of the residents group would welcome any support from and also any input from the local people.So lets see if we can get this community back on its feet.I would like to thank the residents group for all the work they have done to date, As i know that they played a very big part in lobbying the excutive into looking into the scurge of anti-social behaviour in the area.
Lee in Belfast wrote (532 days ago):
SF supporting a campaign to stop anti-social behaviour is like Jordan coming out and supporting an anti-plastic surgery campaign.
Eamonn Andrews in Falls Road wrote (532 days ago):
I am glad to hear sinn fein are fronting these initiatives.And the stormont excutive are getting involved. For years the lower falls area, has suffered through unemployment,run down conditions,anti-social eliments, etc. Fra McCann who has worked very hard over the years will be especially over joyed at this news.The people of the lower falls, know the work Fra has done over the years.If we could see a margin of work done by Fra.Carried out by the excutive it would prove to the people of the lower falls area,that there is hope,I welcome the news of the involvment of MLAs, Sinn Fein are the one and only party that have over the years supported the people of the area, Lets not forget that, But im sure that Sinn Fein's Jim McVeigh will work just as hard as Fra to help the people of the lower falls.Just a bit concerned about the P.S.N.I. statement that they were extending their policing of the falls area, from january till the end of march. I would have thought policing should be 365 days a year job,instead of these pick a few months of the year, I think the money should be made available to have the proper services,like many many times before we have seen initiatives from the policing sector, They work well for the 8 or 12 weeks that they put in place, But as soon as the time is up, the anti-social behaviour starts up again. So if we are going to tackle this problem then we need to do it propery. So money should not be an issue, If we want to see a better area we will need to pull together multi-agencies,and local people.More money and more commitment from the P.S.N.I.There are alot of good people in the lower falls area, and they deserve a better life with out the hassle from anti-social behaviour. So im sure Sinn Fein are looking forward to the road ahead, and with commitment from the proper agencies, this should have a very good out come at last. So i would like to thank the Sinn Fein team for leading this initiative, and i am looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Robert in Belfast wrote (533 days ago):
So after a time if this doesn't work will we be going back to punishment beatings you have to work long and hard with kids and then a new batch come along all different and a new challenge I see this as a good sign and others areas should follow their lead remember the children are our future.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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