Published Tuesday, 17 September 2013
An artist's impression of Northern Ireland's first safety 'village'. (© RADAR)
Planning permission has been granted for the state-of-the-art Risk Avoidance and Danger Awareness Resource (RADAR), Environment Minister Mark H Durkan announced on Tuesday.
Due to open at Harbour Court in east Belfast in September next year, the facility will create three new jobs and 20 part-time jobs in its bid to improve safety among children and young people.
The interactive centre will take on issues like personal safety in various scenarios, what to do in an emergency, consequences of crime and anti-social behaviour, and environmental responsibilities.
RADAR is the result of a multi-agency partnership, headed up by the PSNI and NI Fire and Rescue Service. While it is a first for Northern Ireland, 15 such centres already exist throughout the UK.
"RADAR will become a crucial resource where children and young people will be taught vital life skills that will remain with them throughout their lives," Mr Durkan said.
"I am particularly passionate about this scheme as it promotes strategies that help children and young people deal with emergency and dangerous situations in a safe and secure environment."
I'm certain that children and young people who visit this virtual village will never forget the valuable lessons learnt.
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan
Within the facility's risk-free environment, children aged 10-11 will experience dangerous situations and scenarios, learning how everyday hazards can be prevented, avoided or managed.
Young adults aged 16-24 will be able to explore issues around personal safety and social responsibility, along with an insight into the consequence of actions.
The manager of a similar centre in Wales, DangerPoint in Talacre, highlighted how such a project could be expanded in the future.
"DangerPoint has recently celebrated its 50,000th visitor to the centre," Julie Evans said.
"Since opening, we have expanded our range of visitors to include older pupils, additional learning needs pupils, parents of young children and older people's tours. We also run cognitive behaviour courses for young people who have shown fire-setting behaviours.
"We have really positive feedback from all the visitors and they often come back for a repeat visit during our public opening times."
Ms Evans added: "We are extremely happy to hear that Northern Ireland has just received planning permission and look forward to seeing their centre operational. We wish them all the best of luck."
A vacant light industrial unit will be converted to form the indoor village, with £105,000 in funding from the Department of the Environment and just over £995,000 from the Department of Justice.
Further support in kind has been secured from the Department of Regional Development; the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment; NIFRS; NIE; Prince's Trust; Translink; and the RNLI.
© UTV News