Published Thursday, 07 February 2013
Police say the organised fights have been taking place in north Belfast. (© UTV)
Young people in the area are using social networks to set up public brawls and police have broken up a number of fights in the Brougham Street and Waterworks area over several weekends.
Some of the teens taking part in the fights have been found with weapons such as knives and hammers, which officers fear they are planning to use to harm others. Crowds of young people are also gathering to watch the violent attacks.
Gerry O'Reilly, from the Community Bridges Project in Duncairn Gardens area said, "These pre-arranged fights are organised between a few individuals who are using social media to invite others to attend and spectate.
"There are concerns that these young people are not aware of the weapons which may be present at the scene of the proposed fight site and that they are also unaware of the geography of the area which may include an interface."
Harry Smith is a representative from the Community Bridges Project in Tigers Bay.
"Parents need to take responsibility regarding the whereabouts of their children and in supervising access to social networking sites," he said.
"There are fears that should this behaviour continue that a young person may lose their life. This would have a devastating impact on communities."
Police say they are clamping down on the so-called fight clubs, and warn that carrying weapons could lead to six months behind bars and a £5,000 fine.
Sergeant Brian Caskey from York Road Neighbourhood Policing Team said: "The fact is that carrying a weapon can have disastrous results not only for the victim but for the offender who will have to deal with the burden of a criminal conviction throughout the rest of their lives.
"Those who might consider carrying such a weapon should be aware that local police will carry out searches and that you stand a strong chance of getting caught."
He urged young people to think about the consequences of their actions.