Calls for arrests over stolen car racing

Calls for arrests over stolen car racing

People who turned out to watch stolen cars being raced up and down the Falls Road in west Belfast are "as guilty" as the car thieves, Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey has said - amid multi-agency talks held in response to scenes caught on camera on New Year's Eve.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the reckless driving after an event was organised on social media networks over the holiday period.Two cars were filmed speeding and doing 'donuts' in the middle of the road."They had a gallery to play to," Paul Maskey said of those responsible."Nobody should be encouraging car thieves - we have seen the devastation that leaves."They had a gallery to play to where people have gone out to watch them and I find them as guilty.Paul Maskey, Sinn FéinThe Sinn Féin politician was speaking to UTV following a meeting between local community representatives and other bodies, including the PSNI, Youth Justice Agency and Housing Executive."It was challenging at times, when people were feeling frustrated with regards to what they saw on our streets on New Year's Eve, but we're about to meet again in two weeks," Mr Maskey said."We want to see the perpetrators of this arrested and put before the courts. It is simply not good enough that a small number of people can hold this area to ransom."Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann, who lives in the area and witnessed the illegal activity as he returned home, also believes more must be done to put a stop to such car crime."This is an age-old problem," he said."What we need to deal with are the root causes - poor education, unemployment, training, parenting and other obstacles."Both Mr Maskey and Mr McCann have asked police to update the next meeting on progress made in their investigation.According to a development worker with the Falls Residents' Association, local people are concerned by perceived "inaction" by the PSNI.Video footage of the cars being raced on New Year's Eve shows that the drivers were undeterred by the arrival of a police Land Rover and Terry Quinn added that officers came under attack.As well as the activity involving stolen cars, he added that other anti-social behaviour - including assaults and vandalism - had occurred on the night in question.You're dealing with death drivers who don't care if they kill or maim people standing watching.Terry Quinn, community worker"There are good people living in this area. The minority cause this damage and a lot of people came in from outside the area to cause this damage," Mr Quinn said."The people who actually came out to watch those stolen cars could have been injured or killed themselves, which has happened in the past in west Belfast."People need to take that into account whenever they're calling people out onto the street to watch stolen cars."According to PSNI statistics, car crime has fallen by 84% in west Belfast over the last 10 years.No arrests have yet been made over the New Year's Eve incident, but it is understood that police are gathering information as part of their investigation.YouTube

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